Working from home with kids: Here’s You Survival Guide
With everyone on lockdown and working from home, the one positive thing to surface is that we get to spend more time with our families. The subsequent impact is trying to balance your work tasks, whilst home-schooling or whilst tending to your baby or toddler. If you manage to strike a good balance, this can have an amazing impact on your work-life balance.
But that’s where things get tricky – creating that kind of strict separation between work and leisure can be tough. Even if you can figure this out, getting your family on board can present a challenge! Sometimes kids don’t always understand why their parents are now around all day but cannot be disturbed for a few hours.
Lines must be drawn if you are to stand any chance of getting work done. If both parents are working, then it becomes even more crucial that you work together to create this distinction.
Find the balance between parenting and working from home with these tips:
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE, BUT ADJUST IT AS REQUIRED
Your best chance of getting this balancing act right is to set out a strict timetable for when you will work and when you won’t. You may not be able to mirror your normaly working hours to the letter however you could come close to it. Take yours and your partners work shedule in mind and find your peak and off peak times.
Younger children would have a strict routine of their own. Find a way to sync these up together.
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN
Discuss the current situation with your children and try to get them to understand that there is a new way of doing things. Talk to them about what help you would need from them to make the new routine run smoothly.
SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
Your children may not understand that you are required to be on the phone or by your laptop undisturbed. They are not your colleagues. They do however require structure. Establish a few ground rules for them to follow and communicate it to them clearly. You could communicate the day’s schedule to them and let them know when in your day, you will have time for them. For example, make time to eat together at lunch time.
TALK TO YOUR COLLEAGUES
It is vital that you remain transparent with your colleagues about any potential disruptions. If you are in the middle of an email exchange and need to urgently see to your children, let them know that you will be unavailable for the next half hour or so. At the same time, there will be the occasional unpredictable disruption. If you are away from your work for a longer than usual amount of time, communicate to them once you are back. Explain your home setup to your colleagues. This will ensure transparency around any unexpected disruptions.
GET UP BEFORE YOUR CHILDREN
This is one of the most important steps. Waking up early gives you a chance to prepare your day, uninterrupted, and get a head start on your work. You can also use this time to set up the children’s activities and meals for the day.
SET UP YOUR DESIGNATED WORKSPACE
This should go without saying but you need to create a space in your home as your dedicated workspace. Some parents would choose a space where they would be able to have privacy and others would choose a location where they are able to watch the children. Whatever you decide, ensure that everyone knows that the area you choose, is your “office” and once you are seated in this space you should not be disturbed.
It is by no means easy – working from home with children. Getting your full day in one go, may not be possible. Now, many parents have to homeschool in addition to pulling a full work-from-home shift. Understand that these are not normal circumstances and you can always finish up your work after hours, not take a lunch break, or even finish up your work on the weekend if need be. Of course, some employers are stricter than others. Most however, understand the current situation and would probably be monitoring your total output and results, than watch your every move. If you have any concerns, talk to your employer beforehand and arrange a way around it.
SCHEDULE ACTIVITIES FOR THE CHILDREN
As you continue your daily work tasks, you will need to find tasks for the children to occupy themselves with as well. Find videos they can watch, create a study schedule or give them recreational tasks to do on their own while you work. You could even incorporate a reward system for completed tasks, to encourage them. Wherever possible, try to sync your schedule with their so that they are occupied while you are busy. It is also important to ensure that they have fun activities scheduled.
TEACHING FROM HOME
Unless you were planning on homeschooling your children, do not stress about completing every single lesson, every day. You are not a teacher. Reach out to your child’s teacher(s) and find out what the most important lessons are and focus on that. It is challenging enough for teachers to complete the curriculum, let alone parents with full-time jobs, juggling work and teaching, to be asked to do it.
MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE OR THE OUTDOORS
Children may become more energetic if they aren’t burning any energy. As you know, a child with too much energy can be…unpredictable. Plan some outdoor activities for them, like kicking around a soccer ball or even take a walk around the block with them (obviously adhering to social distancing).
If space is an issue for you, then change it up and do some indoor exercising, stretches, dancing or climbing a pillow and blanket fort. Be creative.
CHOOSE THE BEST TIME FOR TELECONS
If your job requires you to be virtually in touch with your colleagues daily, then schedule those meetings at a quiet time during the day, to avoid disruptions. So, perhaps when the children are asleep or watching TV.
ALTERNATE WITH YOUR PARTNER
When both you and your partner work from home, it can be useful to alternate some time with the children. While one parent focuses on work, the other parent can play a game with the children. You could take it in hourly shifts at a time, for example. Doing so, children will feel less ‘neglected’ and both parents can continue to work at alternating moments.
ENSURE A GOOD WORK-LIFE BALANCE
It is important to ensure your work-life balance is maintained. Once your workday is done, shut down your PC and enjoy the evening. With working from home, is difficult for many to set boundaries that ensure work stays during working hours, especially when you need to use after-hours to catch up any work that was missed while tending to your children during the day. Try to plan something fun in the week, like a family game night.
ASK FOR HELP
There’s no harm in asking for support from people around you. Be honest with your team about your situation, and if absolutely necessary, shift deadlines or reschedule meetings. You will find that most people are quite understanding, especially during this time.
At the same time, communicate with your partner and children and find a setup that allows for everyone to succeed. You and your partner, equally, deserve uninterrupted work time. Remember however, this is only temporary.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
Finally, as much as this is a stressful and challenging time, there are positives to take from it. Working from home means more time with your family, and for some, it gives the opportunity to pursue activities you might not have had the time for before. Think, that garage that needed sorting. 😊
Every family is different, and we are living in unprecedented times. Find what’s best for you and your family. There is great value in your children seeing you succeed professionally, personally and creatively – and if you’re like most people, your family’s finances depend on your work. So show them, through your actions, the importance of a balanced life, filled with work and school, time together as a family, and time for individual passions. But above all, be kind to yourself.
FOR THOSE WITH TODDLERS
Arguably, infants and toddlers require the most hands-on care and the most attention from all the age groups. However all age groups come with their own challenges, especially for working parents. This article may help you with your baby or toddler: Working from home with a baby or toddler is no picnic. Here’s how to make it more tolerable.
How have you been managing your work from home situation?
Do you have any tips, ideas or suggestions to share?
Let us know in the comments!
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Related Articles and Sources:
- Working from home with kids: Work-life balance for WFHers
- Working from home with kids feels unsustainable. Here’s how to ease the burden.
- Working from home with kids: advice and ideas to stay sane
- How to Survive When Working From Home With Kids
- It’s Not Just You: Working from Home with Kids Is Impossible