Working from home — whether by necessity or choice — is increasingly common for professionals across the country and the globe.
Whether you’re a full-time remote worker, telecommuting for part of each week, or temporarily fulfilling your work responsibilities from home, having kids at home at the same time can make your workday more complicated and less organized. While successfully balancing time between work and your children requires some careful thought and planning, it’s by no means impossible. Consider this advice for creating a more productive and harmonious environment for your kids and yourself.
There are many times where a little background noise or chatter won’t harm the end result of your work. And there are plenty of other scenarios when you simply need a quiet space to focus and pay close attention to the task at hand. Finding a happy medium between the two can help you work from home more successfully when your kids are also at home.
If you have simple, small tasks or similar work planned for part of your day, consider using that time to sit together with your family. A sense of togetherness, even when everyone is focused on work or school, is valuable. And you can dedicate more time to being fully present with your kids before and after the workday is done, as well as during lunch and other breaks.
You’ll also need a way to create a separate working space for times you really need to focus, or when using video conferencing solutions to connect with colleagues, supervisors, clients, and other stakeholders. With kids old enough to supervise themselves and understand their parents’ need to sometimes buckle down during their workdays, this often isn’t an issue, to begin with.
For younger children, you can consider putting up a reminder when you really need some time alone. Making a color-coded sign with green and red sides can be a quick and fun crafting project with your young ones. Remind your kids that you’re there if a true emergency occurs and make sure to occasionally check-in even when it’s time to put all of your attention toward your work. Parents.com pointed out that nap time for younger kids is also prime time for adults to devote some undivided attention to their work.
Finding a balance between work and the needs of your children is much easier when multiple family members are involved. Your partner and any other adults in the house, as well as your older teenage children, can help you split this responsibility during the workday. Start a conversation about your schedules and who is available at a given time to supervise the kids. Your younger kids will get more facetime with family members, and the adults involved will have more time for conference calls and other tasks that demand your full attention and a quiet environment.
Taking the time to create an effective schedule will pay off when you – and everyone else – have a clear picture of when you’re free, busy, and somewhere in between. Clear time for major projects, critical deadlines, and other intensive work well ahead of when it needs to be done whenever possible and let your kids and other family members know you can’t be available during those times. Similarly, set aside time for your kids, whether it’s overseeing an activity or getting a little bit of quality time in during the day.
While you can’t always control when a client or vendor will need to talk, blocking off your calendar will encourage your colleagues and supervisors to work with your schedule. If needed, have a discussion with your direct manager about flexibility in your workday. Explain how, for example, you’re happy to work a little later into the evening or get an earlier start, if needed, to ensure you can spend a full hour of family time with your kids at lunch or assist with complicated homework assignments. Look for ways to compromise that respect both your employer’s needs and your own as a parent working from home.
Working from home along with kids and the rest of your family can make it difficult to prioritize your own basic need to relax, unwind, spend time on hobbies or simply take a break.
If there’s more than one adult in the house, you can work with each other to prioritize some “me time” for everyone involved. That could mean having one parent make dinner or start the process of putting the kids to bed while the other catches up on their favorite TV shows or fits in a workout. Here are some more ideas on How to have fun, virtually.
Even if you’re the only adult at home, you can still find a little time to reward yourself for effectively balancing parenting, work, household chores, and your many other responsibilities. Consider relaxing or finishing that project after the kids are in bed.
Having the right tools to connect with others when working from home is vital for building an effective schedule and making sure your family, your work, and yourself all receive the attention they deserve.
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