Whether you’ve only started working from home or have been doing so for a while, some adjustments are necessary. This is especially true for parents who need to balance work and taking care of their children.
Many people have faced the problem of working from home while unable to take their children to daycare. Others, on the other hand, had to adjust to online classes. Whichever may be the case, balancing a career, daily stress, and being a good parent isn’t an easy feat. That is why we have compiled a list of 15 tips on working remotely with kids.
1. Be Aware You’re Not Alone
Many parents are facing the challenge of making work from home work for everybody. There are probably some in your own team.
Even if this isn’t the case, and you’re the only one facing these issues, don’t think your team members and managers won’t understand what you’re going through. The pandemic has brought a great level of stress to most people’s daily lives. Having the additional stress of caring for a child isn’t a small burden.
That is why you will have to communicate with your coworkers and superiors openly. Tell them about your situation to let them understand your situation better.
2. Be Specific
Different children have different needs. That is why you will have to let your manager and team members more about your child’s schedule. That can mean starting your work a bit later in the day. Or, on the other hand, having to take multiple breaks and being unavailable to your coworkers.
Working from home with kids will demand some level of flexibility. However, having a general idea of how most of your days will go is a good starting point. Your coworkers will know you won’t be able to answer them at certain times.
Additionally, children’s needs change with time, so you will probably have to make some changes in your work life as well. Make sure to communicate them as they happen, or even a bit earlier when possible.
Let’s be honest – this is a hectic time in all our lives. Keeping a semblance of balance has never been more important.
Many articles have covered the topic of ‘’the new normal’’ and suggest a variety of productivity tips. However, everyone is different and has to make changes that will fit them and not this New Normal. That is why it is important to understand your own situation first and foremost.
Even if your best and most productive moments happen at unconventional times, be sure to make the most of them.
Unfortunately, burnout has become one of the biggest problems in current offices, whether traditional or home. We get so stressed out and forget that our little ones are also seeing us go through a lot, which, in turn, stresses them out. Try to find ways to reduce fatigue the best way you can, so you have the energy to spend some stress-free time with your children after work.
4. Make a Schedule for Yourself
Even though most of us have been in an unexpected situation for quite some time, the world is still spinning. Your obligations are still the same, or even more burdensome than before. That’s why there’s no time like now to create a schedule.
Forget the conventional ways of doing things. If you prefer to get up earlier or stay up later to be able to balance all your obligations, go ahead. The most important thing is that it works for you, your company, and your children.
Some conventional techniques, like time blocking, have proven to be very successful in these situations. However, if you need additional help, like productivity apps or changing things around, don’t be afraid to do so.
The most important thing about your schedule is that it works for you. That means different things to different people. You can conduct a time audit during one week to see how to manage your time most efficiently.
5. Create a Schedule for Your Little Ones
This tip has more to do with your home life than work. Spending a lot of time with your children isn’t always a walk in the park. It makes working remotely with kids that much more difficult. Especially so if they don’t understand that even though you’re at home all day – you still need to work.
Creating a schedule of when you can spend time together. Your lunch breaks can be a great time to bond and talk. You will also need to help your child structure their day so no schoolwork goes past them.
You need to remember that the life of your child has changed immensely as well, and they too need some structure they’d usually get from attending daycare, school, etc.
6. Adjust Your Space
Space is a huge element of working from home with kids. The age of your child is the deciding factor with this tip. Parents of toddlers need to keep an eye on their child more than a parent of an elementary school-aged child. In other words, they will have to set up their space a different way.
Parents who are learning how to work from home with a baby will need to keep anything they may need close by. You will need to accommodate your child’s needs quickly, so it makes sense to adjust your home office so you can react to them as soon as possible.
On the other hand, parents of older children may need to be away from them to be able to focus. That is why they need to keep their children occupied with different activities, like crafts and playing with toys. In this case, it would be best to separate the play area from your office.
7. Be Conscious of what You Need to Do
Many business owners believed that working from home would decrease productivity. Yet, the opposite happened, as it is more difficult to stop working on just one more (or three) tasks, and there is no commute.
While business owners may be happy about this turn of events, parents of young children shouldn’t be. It is easy to get caught up with work and forget about work-life balance, including spending time with their children.
You will have to adjust and learn how to work when you have kids. This means consciously choosing to dedicate some time to parenting. Spending more time around your children but not being there for them can be detrimental to your future relationship.
Use the time with your child for fun activities and bonding, so you can de-stress from work and focus on something more wholesome.
8. Team up
Two-parent households have a big advantage in this situation. Especially so if you are both working from home. In this case, you will be able to give more attention to your child, as you will have more hands on deck.
Again, work-life balance is key in this case, and you will be able to achieve it by splitting duties. This will also help you avoid burnout. Having someone you can rely on when you are nearing a deadline can be a life-saver.
Of course, things aren’t always going to go smoothly, as everyone in your household is in a new situation and needs to adjust. That is why you also need to be patient and forgiving. This doesn’t apply only to your children and partner, but to yourself too.
9. Use your Child’s Schedule to Your Favor
This tip is beneficial for parents of children who aren’t at baby or toddler age. Simply put – your child’s circadian rhythm should allow you some time for uninterrupted work. Use nap times to do some deep work and focus without interruptions.
Play and TV time are also good opportunities to focus on work. Hence, you should dedicate these periods to the most demanding tasks and deep work.
10. Give You Both some Time Apart
Even though your child is probably very happy to be able to spend some time with you, they aren’t used to being around you all the time. This often means they will get overwhelmed at some point, and want some alone time.
Depending on your situation, you can organize an online play date or scavenger hunt for your young ones. If you don’t have the energy, playing a movie will also suffice. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it and allow for too much TV time in that case. That is why these activities should be reserved as rewards.
However, if you have a child who is starting to take care of themselves, you can use their favorite movie or show as an incentive to help you with chores, such as cleaning up the play area or putting some toys away. This way you will get even more time to focus on your work, and you can both appreciate the time you spend together more.
11. Working from Home with Kids and Remaining a Team Player
Being dedicated to your family and your work isn’t easy even in normal circumstances. Now, it became even harder for people who have never worked from home. Remote work requires much more effort when it comes to communication, and the process of getting things approved can be challenging.
That is why teams need to stay on the same page. If you hold a higher position in your team, it will be even more difficult, as you hold more responsibility. Some of your team members are going through exactly the same struggles as you are.
This is why communication isn’t only important at the beginning of your remote work journey. You will have to keep it at a high level at all times to make work easier both for yourself and your colleagues. Only this way is working from home with kids sustainable at all.
So, allow that time off or flexibility in shifts. You shouldn’t meddle in your coworkers’ organization as long as the work gets done.
12. Track Time
As we have already mentioned, remote work can make you lose track of time. Especially so if you are also parenting full-time. That is why it is a great idea to use a time tracking app for remote work. You will then be able to see the structure of your days and make small but deliberate changes.
There are a lot of moving parts in working from home with kids or a baby. A reliable time tracking system is a necessity if you don’t want any of your hard work to go to waste. It will also help your managers understand you are doing your best in a very difficult situation.
This tip is especially important if your company tracks billable and non-billable hours. The clients will still look for an explanation when it comes to fees, and keeping an accurate record will save you a lot of trouble if anyone brings your work up.
13. Keep Your Space Professional
Some employers are willing to be lenient to some extent. Others, on the other hand, expect you to remain professional and keep your private life away from work.
Even if your employer is ready to accommodate your needs, you will definitely score some points if you keep up appearances. This is especially true for teams that have regular conference calls.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to single parents with babies or children who need special care. However, if you are able, you should keep your space (at least the part of it that shows up in your frame) and your appearances as professional as you can.
It is best to test your camera before a conference call to make sure no Legos are in your frame. Also, keeping up appearances can help you turn from Home to Office mode easier as a small ritual instead of commuting.
14. Take Care of Yourself too
No matter how hard you try, there may come a time when you feel so fed up with having two jobs at the same time. And parenting is a job and a very important one at that. Hence, you will need a break here and there.
After you’re done and finally can log off, try to stay away from your office space. Put your child to bed or play them a movie while you take the time to relax. Meditate, take a bath or practice some other form of self-care or a hobby you’ve neglected.
Many parents feel guilty for having these small indulgences when they could be spending that time with their children. Yet, having some time for yourself helps you recharge your batteries and be ready to take on another day without burnout.
15. Be Firm and Just When It Comes to Boundaries
We have stated multiple times that you are in a very stressful situation. Turning to simple solutions in these times is the easiest way. Yet, if you want to improve the quality of your home life and not be stressed at all times, compromise can be a better option.
Make sure your children understand when they can and cannot interfere with your work. working from home with children gets much easier once you set up a few ground rules. For example – if you have your headset on or are talking to a colleague, your child is allowed to interrupt you only in case of an emergency.
Of course, that means you will also need to be available to them for small tasks they cannot do on their own, like reaching a snack or helping them with a math problem. To put it simply, you have to be ready to jump in, and your children need to understand at least some boundaries.
Learning how to work from home when you have kids is a process. It isn’t easy and can be stressful. However, it can also be rewarding, as you will be there for big milestones in their lives – when their first tooth falls out or they get their first A in school. Sharing this joy can create unforgettable moments for both of you.
You need to remember neither of you is a robot that works perfectly. Yet, as a parent, you must be understanding and kind even when mistakes happen. Try to keep that in mind and do your best. Even if you aren’t perfect (note – no one is), your effort will be appreciated.
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