With the advent of remote work, more parents are heading to the home office than ever. While the work arrangement is great for productivity, family life, and work-life balance, those with kids have the tricky task of balancing work and parenthood at the same time.
Imagine running your own small daycare and attempting to do spreadsheets at the same time. It isn’t easy. But with a few tips and hacks for parents working from home with children, you can manage your daily tasks while keeping Junior entertained, happy, and out of trouble. Here’s how to do it.
1. Create Boundaries
If you’re working from home with children, the first step toward creating a favorable environment is to create boundaries. You can define these boundaries as both time and location. For example, if you’re working from 8 to 5, you should let your children know that your home office is off-limits during certain periods. Sure, you should have designated times to check on your kids, have lunch, or go outside for a few minutes, but work time is still work time. Create a time chart or keep your office door closed to ensure your children know when you’re available for anything outside of emergencies.
The other aspect of creating boundaries is your work area. A child’s play area and your office should have defined separation. You should never combine them. If possible, have the child’s play area close enough that you can hear them but far enough away that loud noises won’t interrupt your work or an online meeting. It’s a tough task to monitor your children while working, but boundaries set a precedent for acceptable behavior and interruptions, allowing you to get work done in the process.
2. Be Realistic
As a parent working from home with children, you need to have realistic expectations — both for your children and work. In all likelihood, you’ll be unable to devote 100% of your time to either one on any given day or even a 50/50 split.
To cope with realism, you should make some concessions. You may have to step away from work for a bit to give your children your undivided attention and vice-versa. Talk with your children about this balance of responsibility, and you should find satisfactory results.
You should also combine realistic expectations with flexibility. Kids are a crafty, fun, and yet mischievous bunch. You never know when you’ll need to take them to the doctor or just spend some time with them when they’re having a rough day. The same goes for work. You’re never quite sure when a problem or issue will arise, so flexibility is key. The more flexibility you have as a parent working from home with children, the more adaptability you have within your control.
3. Give in to Electronics — At Least a Little Bit
Too much screen time for kids can lead to dependency on electronics and even behavioral disorders. It’s been well documented. As a successful parent, limiting screen time is crucial to your child’s development.
But when you have several projects, meetings, and other work-related activities, you might want to ease back on your rules just a little bit. Although other activities are more wholesome and educational than video games or YouTube, a time may arise when you need that distraction to get work done. You don’t have to make it a routine; just know that it’s an option as a parent working from home with children.
4. Stay on a Schedule
Kids are creatures of habit. The only problem is that they’re usually incapable of creating routines and habits on their own. That’s why you’re the parent, and they’re the child.
Yet out of this responsibility, you have the ability to craft a schedule that works for both you and your children. One of the best tips for parents working from home with children is to put together a set schedule that allows you the freedom to get your work done while also keeping your children occupied.
For example, you could work on high-priority objectives while your kids are eating breakfast, doing an educational activity, or are otherwise occupied. In most cases, this prime opportunity for work is during the morning before any interruptions or ornery, tired children barge into your office. You know the best times for you to complete work, so plan accordingly.
5. Talk About the Importance of Work
Ah, to be a kid again — no worries or responsibilities to hold you back. Sadly, the time has passed, but if you hearken back to your youth, you can easily understand why children don’t understand the concept of work.
However, kids are like sponges if you explain things the right way. Discuss how work is what you do to keep a roof over your head and pay for fun activities, food, and other things. By putting this in kid’s terms, you can help them understand why they need to adhere to your rules and boundaries.
6. Take Advantage of Childcare
Even if you’re a parent working from home with children, that doesn’t mean you should ignore childcare. Some companies offer childcare arrangements for hybrid workers or even as a perk if you’re fully remote. If your kids aren’t school-aged and you have a huge project coming up, take advantage of the opportunity.
For parents that don’t have access to childcare or don’t want to spend the extra cash, you can always ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to watch your children — even if it’s just for a few minutes or an hour. Many friends and relatives are more than happy to help if they have the time. As far as neighbors go, tread lightly. Make sure that you’re only having them watch your kids if they want to, and keep the time frame within reason.
Trust the Process
Whether you’re fresh to work from home parenting or you’ve been doing it for a few years, applying these tips takes time. Even though it’s easy to give up on your plans when major projects arise or you need to be more attentive with your kids, trust the process. Hopefully, your plan comes to fruition, you can balance parenthood and your job, and everyone’s happier at the end of the day.
How do you balance parenting and working at home? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
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