How to Balance Working at Home and Parenting
It’s tough to balance parenting and working from home. The kids need your attention, and it may be difficult to keep them focused on their studies while also getting your own work done. Younger kids especially need lots of attention and supervision. So here are some useful tips for you to manage your home life working and taking care of the kids during this pandemic.
You’re trying to adjust to the “new ways”-working remotely to stay safe and healthy. But, to a working parent, it is more chaotic than you think. You need to hit your work targets, attend to your kids, do house chores, and remain sane. The kids are at home and demand all your attention. They need help with school work, play, eat, shower etc. So how do you balance between working at home and parenting?
I’m a remote worker with two under-six-years kids. During my first weeks into stay-at-home order, I had to deal with countless interruptions within my first hour, and frequent breaks to try and do everything at the same time during the day. The truth is, it doesn’t work. Sounds familiar? Here are seven creative ways to help you get equilibrium parenting and remote working.
1. Set up “home office hours”.
Do you have your home office space set up? It is crucial to have an office in your home to maximize productivity. Remember to create a flexible work environment like using an adjustable standing office desk or any other smart office product to increase efficiency.
Once you have your office set up, create your working hours. Communicate this new development/routine to your kids, so they know when you are working. Working at home means that you have the flexibility, and you can set convenient working hours. If you are part of an employed remote team, you can discuss it with your team about working hours. Unlike working at the company office, working at home with toddlers may affect your productivity. It is vital to know what to achieve in a day and let your employer know to avoid unrealistic expectations. You can use the Covey time management matrix to schedule your to-do-lists.
2. Work while your kids take a nap.
Have toddlers who fuss all the time when you want to work? Trying to stick to your home working hours may take a toll on you if you have toddlers. If this is your current situation, try to work while your kids take a nap time or while they are asleep. You may not do much during kids nap time, but working while they’re sleeping at night might help you get more things off your to-do-list. As a writer, I work while my children sleep, which works best for me since I need a quiet environment to spark creativity. Remember to find time to relax/rest and take care of your mental health.
3. Find creative ways to keep the kids busy.
Children, too, are feeling the weight of quarantine order. Unlike before, you can’t send your kids outside to play unsupervised. You can try old school playing activities like building a fort using blankets and pillows. They’ll spend more time trying to create the best fort hence giving you more time to work. Also, you can find interactive apps for your toddler(s) and let them enjoy watching. Some of the programs are great and super fun to watch. However, you will need to track your kids’ screen time and ensure that they don’t overdo.
The treasure hunt game is another fun way to keep your kids busy. When I want to work, I hide something in the house, give my kids a hint, and let them figure it out. Meanwhile, I’ll be diving myself into work.
If you exhaust all play tricks for your kids, host virtual playdates. They can have singing, dancing, or drawing activities virtually with relatives, babysitters, or even their teachers. Kids get bored, staying indoors, and not having to play with their friends. Additionally, if your house has a patio, why not bring work outside while the little ones get fresh air?
4. Alternate working hours with your spouse.
One thing that helps me be more efficient and more productive as a remote worker is a help I get from my partner. Chances are, it is your first time adjusting to remote work and homeschooling. So, instead of juggling between homeschooling and work, alternate with your partner in taking care of the kids. Both of you will be able to achieve work goals. You can create work time blocks that work for you and the family.
If you are a single parent and feel exhausted with work and kids, you can ask for help from relatives or friends. It is understandable to ask for help when you feel like working and parenting are bleeding into your life.
5. Have fun with the kids, and enjoy having them at home.
We are going through uncertain times, and there is so much to worry about at the moment. If you add more stress, it can get worse. Don’t overthink and overwork yourself and instead have fun with the kids at home. Do fun projects together like gardening if you have space, learn with the kids, play hide-and-seek, or do some game of tag in the yard as you let out all the anxiety.
6. Plan ahead.
Make it a habit that every night, you set up a schedule for the following day. Ask your children about the activities they would like to do the next morning and incorporate them into your plan. Just like the school structure, your kids will adapt fast, and you will have time to work.
Additionally, reward good behaviors always thank your kids for helping you achieve work goals. Showing appreciation will motivate your children to cooperate with you.
7. Eat healthy meals, exercise, and get good sleep.
As a work at home parent, you have so much on your plate, and it is crucial to take care of your health. Prepare healthy meals, exercise regularly, and get good sleep. Join online yoga classes, learn new cooking skills, art, or anything to help you stay positive. Don’t worry if you haven’t found your center of gravity. Remember that you are not the only one adjusting to the new normal-your colleagues and boss. Also, you can catch up with your friends virtually, treat yourself to a movie at home and sleep more. Take your time to process the trauma and accept the situation and learn to cope with the current situation positively. You can balance parenting duties with work all at home.