Working From Home with Kids (Effectively)
How to balance between parenting and your profession when you’re working remotely.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed our day to day lives in so many ways. Among those changes were the widespread school and daycare closures that happened all throughout the country, leaving people to juggle parenting and professional demands like never before. Millions of parents are now living in a reality that they probably didn’t see coming: one where they work from home, and their kids are there all the time, too.
Anyone with kids will tell you, parenting is the most challenging job on the planet. It was already hard enough before the COVID-19 crisis. Now parents are having to mind their children all while trying to work from home. When you’re trying to balance playtime with presentations and mealtime with meetings, it can be hard to keep everything under control. Trying to maintain a healthy balance can seem impossible. But rest assured, it’s not. Lots of people are adjusting to the new normal and making WFH work for their families. If you’re struggling when it comes to working from home with children, you’ve come to the right place. We’re sharing some key tips on how to work from home with kids effectively.
If you’re new to working from home in general, you may want to start here. That post gives you a few helpful tips on adapting to the WFH environment. Now, if you’re a WFH vet who’s just not used to spending your working hours with kids in the mix, then keep reading. The fact of the matter is, the older your kids are, the easier your WFH experience will be. Nevertheless, these tips should help you manage the challenge of working from home with kids better.
Set realistic expectations.
You’ve got to be real with yourself. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re going to be able to continue performing at the same level you’ve been performing at under normal circumstances. It’s called the new normal for a reason. Things are going to have to change. You’ll have to adapt. It’s an adjustment for your whole family. Don’t expect to keep the same work schedule and maintain the same level of productivity all while going above and beyond for your kids. You won’t get any sleep, and you’ll drive yourself into the ground fast if you’re trying to do it all at all hours of the day. Be gracious towards yourself.
Communicate with your team.
Communication is key, and that sentiment is even more true in times like these. When you’re working from home with kids, your days can be unpredictable. If you find that you’re not going to be able to attend a meeting or complete a deliverable by the deadline, communicate that with your team as soon as possible. Most people are empathetic. Your team will likely understand if you need special accommodations while you’re trying to work from home with the kiddos. Be proactive by communicating early and often.
Alter your schedule.
If you’re used to working 9:00 to 5:00, you’re going to have to adjust your hours with kids at home. While you might be able to swing it with older kids like high schoolers, there’s pretty much zero chance you’ll have eight uninterrupted hours to work every day with younger children. What works for a lot of parents who are working remotely with kids is breaking up the day. Get up a few hours earlier to get some quiet work time while the kids are still sleeping. And consider putting the kids to bed an hour or two earlier to get some more time for work in the evening.
If you have a partner in the home who is also working remotely during this time, you could take shifts to help each other balance work and parenting responsibilities. For example, one of you could watch the children from 9:00 to 1:00, and then the other could take over from 1:00 to 5:00. And you could each pick up extra hours in the morning when the children are still asleep or after they’ve gone to bed.
This will be easier the older your kids are. A two-year-old likely won’t tolerate that you’re not available to them when they want you to be. That being said, there are things you can do to make time for work when at home with your children. Find a designated work area, preferably a space with a door that you can close. Make it clear to your kids that when you’re in that space, they need to do their best to grant you peace and privacy. You can even get the kids involved by asking them to make you a sign that you can put on the door to let them know you’re in a meeting or otherwise occupied.
While these tips aren’t sure to make working from home with children smooth sailing, they can help you manage this new environment. Though challenging, you may find that you prefer your new WFH situation since it enables you to spend more time with your pride and joy. If you want to keep working from home with your kids, check out our blog post on the best jobs for stay-at-home parents. So, remember to be patient with your kids as well as yourself during this time. Don’t expect to be the best, just do the best you can. You’re sure to find the balance.