How to plan a LEAN day at home

How are you dealing with home school, home daycare and working from home? These days many parents feel the pressure of looking after their children and working at the same time.

We have gathered some advice on how parents can cope with a new everyday life by planning a LEAN day at home.

1. Visible planning – it’s on the wall

It all comes down to structure and planning. At my house (with two small children) every day begins with a “morning meeting”. We make it clear, when one parent is “at work” in the office, and the other one is taking care of the kids.

At the board meeting we have made different activity cards with drawings for the children. This way the children are involved in deciding some of the activities of the day. We put up the activity cards on the wall. The children love that they can go to the wall and see what’s next. And we avoid the conflict of when and why, because it’s on the wall.

Schedules and routines are important for children because they need to know what’s coming next. If the schedule is consistent, children learn the pattern. Once a pattern is set, children can understand the routines of the day. Routines give children a sense of security and control over their environment.

2. Remember snack times

I made the mistake of forgetting the morning snack, and the children were kicking and screaming coming 10 am. There is a natural explanation – they got hangry. This happens when the blood sugar gets too low, which triggers a cascade of hormones, including cortisol (a stress hormone) and adrenaline (the fight-or-flight hormone). The result is that children as well as adults get increasingly upset, irritable, angry. Therefore, a balanced blood sugar is important to keep the house peace as well as keeping you focused when working.

Now, we have morning and afternoon snacks, and everyone is happy. The children love being in the kitchen and helping (some would say eating more than helping 😉) with peeling and cutting carrot and cucumber sticks. A little hummus for dipping, and we have got the perfect morning snacks.

3. Schedule active breaks together

Sitting down inside at your workstation for an extended period drains your brain from oxygen and nutrients. This means that you become less productive and efficient in your work. An active break of only 4 minutes affect your ability to focus and concentrate for up to an hour. The same goes for children. A rule of thumb is that a child can sit down and focus in approximately as many minutes as its age (plus a few minutes). That is about 10 minutes for an 8-year-old. Of course, some are better than others at involving themselves deeply in a particular activity or interest.

So, make sure that you schedule breaks in your working day – for instance you can use the Pomodoro method. And why not do an active break together? To get the most out of your active breaks, you should think about stimulating your senses by:

  • Getting some fresh air and sunlight to improve your mood and mental health.
  • Activating larger groups of muscles. This increases the blood flow to your body and brain, bringing all the oxygen and nutrients you need for your brain to be on its A-game.
  • Challenging your coordination skills. This primes the networks of your brain linked to thinking, planning, decision-making, problem-solving, and results in an improved information-processing.

Examples of activities that stimulate your senses and attention