These days, it’s more common than ever for at least one parent to have a remote job. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies around the world to send their employees home. As a result, it’s up to parental figures everywhere to manage their work and personal responsibilities under the same roof. That includes childcare.
Here’s how to find balance and stay sane as you work from home.
It’s essential to set somewhat firm boundaries sooner rather than later. Your family should know when it’s okay to approach you. Otherwise, it’ll become a habit for them to pester you with unnecessary comments and questions. These barriers won’t necessarily work if you work from home with young children. But kids who can grasp “yes” and “no” should be able to catch on eventually.
Everyone needs to be on the same page from day one. Have a conversation that includes every household member. You’ll want to outline when work starts and ends, as well as specific rules related to your situation. Do you take phone calls throughout the day? Put up a sign on your office door that indicates that you’re on a call. When you prioritize open communication, it’s easier to maintain a work-life balance at home.
You should always have a way for your kids to stay occupied while you answer emails. They’ll likely be at home if they don’t have in-person classes or activities to attend. To keep your children active and engaged as you work, it’s important to pre-plan a few activities that you can quickly set up. For instance, you could create an art supply box for art projects or a book nook with age-appropriate reads.
You don’t have to be a super parent to ensure that your kids have fun at home. But you should put together ways for them to stay busy. You could even move your work outside for an hour or two so that they can run around outdoors. Otherwise, it won’t be long before they start to cause a little chaos.
Unless you have to be at your computer for the entire day, it’s smart to establish on- and off-hours. This approach should make your personal responsibilities easier to manage. For example, you could wake up at 7 a.m. and work for two hours. Then, you’ll spend an hour with kids on schoolwork or playtime. It’s even better if you can catch up on work after dinner when your children have settled down.
You’ll want to align with your company’s needs before you block off a few hours to take your kids to a local park. If your supervisor needs you to be present from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., it’s up to you to switch around your schedule. But a schedule can make a difference for your household. You’ll be able to separate work and personal responsibilities more efficiently.
A dedicated work zone can make your job as an employee and a parent more simple. You don’t need to have a home office to be productive. Any comfortable space that can fit a desk, chair and other office supplies works perfectly. You can set up shop wherever it’s quiet and private. You could even arrange baby gates or room dividers between your workspace and everyone else.
This area can help you be more productive and focused throughout the workday. It’s also a smart way to push those boundaries further. If your children see you hard at work at your corner desk, they won’t cross over the line you’ve drawn to ask about what’s for dinner. This setup can even help you “shut the door” on work when it’s time for you to log off for the day.
Your kids won’t be little forever. It’s essential to make sure that you don’t work too much when you’re at home. A set routine with office hours can create more family time, but it’s also important to carve out quality time. There’s a reason why you should do so. You spend almost every moment with your children when they’re at home — but do you actually make meaningful memories?
This quality time can help you savor every moment with your kids throughout the day. As you work, you shouldn’t worry about the fact that you’ll miss yet another “Frozen” rewatch. Instead, you can color a picture, take a walk or buy ice cream. Those actions mean a lot to your children. Do what you can to set aside quality time a few days a week to ensure that you don’t miss important milestones.
You should be able to complete even more work when you pay quality attention to your kids.
This year, you’ll need to balance work and personal duties all at once. That’s not an easy task, so it’s best to remain flexible and prepared over the next few months. Try these ideas to keep your family happy as you navigate this new setup.