Over the past year and a half, working from home has become a viable option for many, be it a result of their situation, being unable to attend the office or simply because they prefer it. For those with children though, it can be a bit of a handful to balance the 9 to 5 workday with your 24/7 child.
You’re definitely not alone if you’re struggling with children that can’t go to school, preschool-aged children hanging off your leg and your boss in your emails with dozens of tasks to complete before the end of the day. Here’s a couple of tricks to try to keep your work/child/life balance in check.
Be realistic about what you can achieve during a workday while balancing your duties as a parent, and have an open discussion with your work about what you may and may not be able to do. Facilitate communication to keep them in the loop, especially so that they can also support you during this time. Let them know that you may not be as responsive or responding to emails at odd times, or that you might have a “young colleague” interrupting you during conference calls. Essentially, forewarn them that things might be a little hectic for you.
You should also be communicating with your children about what will be happening while you are working from home (particularly if they are old enough to understand). You can try to allocate portions of your time to suit a routine for younger children (such as making calls or having meetings during scheduled screen times or naps).
If you have a partner who is also working, one of the better methods you could employ is “divide and conquer”. Depending on work hours and workload, you may be able to take turns in engaging with your children or keeping them occupied so the other can take a call, or complete work and then swap roles.
If you’re a single parent, you’re probably a superstar. You’re basically working two full-time jobs as both an employee and as a parent, so it’s important to stay levelheaded about your expectations. You may need to work some odd hours to keep up with your responsibilities, so it’s important to talk with your employer about options (and what they can expect from you specifically). Be ready to ask for help and support during this time – we’re sure you have this, but it can’t hurt to be prepared for all eventualities.
Make sure that your children have plenty to engage them. Keep them structured with a routine or schedule that gives you flexibility, and make sure that they have a dedicated space to play or work from as well.
One helpful tip to take away from all this is to cherish the time that you will get to spend with your family. They’re what you’d come back to at the end of the day – it’s just that you’re now spending all of that day with them.