Find out about handy and helpful ways to keep your remote work situation and parenting responsibilities balanced well.
An increase in the popularity of working from home, and the Covid-19 pandemic has meant a lot of parents have resorted to remote work, at least some of the time, over the last 12 months. Some 13% of parents want things to go back to ‘pre-pandemic times’ when it comes to work, but many others have come to like, at least some aspects, of remote work whilst being a parent.
It offers all kinds of flexibility, extra time at home and you get rid of that killer commute – so, what’s not to love when you’re also raising a family. It’s the kind of extra family time and fluid way of working many people have dreamt of for a long time.
Of course, remote work and managing a family does come with its challenges and those challenges do need to be overcome in order for long-term WFH arrangements to work. This is especially true if working from home does seem to be a long-term arrangement for you for at least one day a week.
To help you, we have some helpful tips to overcome the challenges of working from home and parenting at the same time:
1. Be Even More Flexible
As a parent you already have to be flexible and work around your child’s needs. Now you work from home too, you have to be even more flexible working around both your job and your child’s needs/ routine. There will be no specific system to suit every family, which is why creating something that works for your family and staying open to change will stand you in good stead.
It’s particularly helpful when your employer is on board as that will give you the most leeway to switch things up as and when you need to. Essentially, you have to be willing to schedule and work in all different ways to get into the right rhythm and routine for your family, but the result is a daily way of being that works for your family, so it’s worth taking away any rigidness and being open to all kinds of possibilities.
2. Get Yourself A Working Space
A space to work is so important when you work from home. It only has to be the corner of a room if you are short on space, or you have younger children you need to watch whilst you work. Ideally though, a home office would be great. It gives you the setup you need to do your job well, and a place to leave behind when you want to leave work behind for a bit.
As above, it makes sense to be flexible with this. A home office is a great idea for times when your partner is caring for the kids, or they are otherwise cared for by friends or they are at nursery etc. Having a laptop and comfortable ‘moveable’ setup then means when they are home you can setup near them, ensuring they are safe and entertained whilst you continue to get your work done.
If you find you want to create more space in your home quickly, affordable self storage can be handy. Budget self storage, especially flexible self storage, gives you the ability to quickly store spare furniture and create the working area you need at home. It’s also handy when you have little ones for storing toys you want to keep for future children, and for making extra playing room at home by storing seasonal items like camping gear or Christmas decorations.
3. Be Really Wise With Your Time
When you work and have children at home you need to work smart, not hard. Get the hardest and most important tasks done first, and consider which of those needs your undivided attention AKA the children’s nap time. Then, when you have to watch the children and work, tasks that maybe don’t require you to be on camera or on the phone, or that aren’t particularly attention-seeking will make more sense.
4. Get Some Space
Time to yourself is even more important now because you may have no time away from your responsibilities if the kids are always at home.
Do take the kids out for a walk in nature for ten minutes. Let your partner have the kids whilst you get some time out. And try and avoid using down time to complete extra work.
If you don’t take timeout and you burn the candles at both ends you could fall prey to burnout, which is bad for the kids and bad for your career – you deserve and need some ‘me time’.
If you are working from home at the same time as your partner, share the responsibilities and work a schedule where you both get to get your work done and spend time with the kids. This could allow you both time to focus on tasks without having your focus stretched, and it enables the kids to get more time with both of you, which is great.
There is a lot of shame attached to parenting with toys or electronics designed to ‘keep a child busy’. However, when you are working from home and caring for your kids, these things are essential and there is no shame on leaning on them every now and again. If you know a certain programme or tablet game will keep them happy whilst you take a work call, use that resource. It’s essential to have these tools in your belt when you have certain work tasks that demand your attention. As long as the kids are safe and supervised, it’s OK that they aren’t doing super educational or beneficial tasks all the time.
The tips above can help you get some ideas to help you balance parenting and working from home. It will take some trial and error and sometimes, it will feel impossible to balance both well. However, if you stay flexible and keep a sense of humour, things can work out for the best and you can get into a great rhythm of working and parenting at home without either area of your life having to suffer. The result is better career flexibility and more time with your family, which are really great goals to put the effort into.