12 tips for parents who work from home
By Vanessa Cole
Working from home when you have kids has many benefits such as getting to spend quality time together and avoiding hefty babysitting fees. However, when deadlines are approaching and the house is chaotic, things can become difficult. Here are some tips on how to stay sane and productive while working from home.
- Create a schedule. Kids thrive with a daily routine. Much like a classroom, craft a schedule that highlights play time, naps, snacks and more. By clearly communicating your availability to your children and keeping them busy, you can reduce the amount of interruptions you experience in a day.
- Capitalize on naptime. Plan your most demanding tasks to take place when you know you won’t be interrupted. If your child is too old for naps, have a designated “quiet playtime” with toys or items they don’t usually have access to. This will keep the toys new and exciting and most importantly, keep your child happy and quiet.
- Set up an office area. Separate your work from your home life with a designated office space, preferably with a door. Not only will this separation help boost your productivity, but it will help to establish boundaries with your children about when they can and can’t interrupt your workday.
- Establish a “do not disturb” signal. This could range anywhere from a sign on your office door, to raising your hand in a “stop” motion. This is important for reinforcing boundaries when your child is becoming persistent for your attention. When they see the signal, they will know that they can’t have your attention right this minute, but you are aware that they have something to say. It can help pretend like you are working during off hours and demonstrate to them what your signals mean. If they need your attention but you are speaking to someone else or staring at the computer, teach them to stand quietly or hold your hand until you are available.
- Pre-plan ways to entertain. You know your child best – what often distracts them for long periods of time? Save Netflix for when you are in a pinch, and opt to plan for some more unique activities such as crafts, obstacle courses, pillow forts, board games and more. Have some of these supplies handy for when the kids get antsy.
- Pay attention to them whenever you can. It can be confusing for children to be in the same vicinity as their parents and not receive their full attention. When handling mundane tasks, include your children as much as possible. Explain what your work is about or recruit them for helping with lunch.
- Take activity breaks together. In our past blog, we suggest ways to stay healthy while working from home, including exercise. Take your exercise and stretch breaks with your kids! If you think a quick yoga session will help you, set up mats for your kids as well and search YouTube Kids for a kid-friendly workout. If possible, go on a quick family walk on your work breaks.
- Make time for yourself. See our blog about mental and physical health. You won’t do your family or your company any good if you are burned out
- Give yourself a break. You’re trying your best. If you find that you are becoming lenient on things you typically are strict about (ie giving the kids more screen time than you please or serving less elaborate meals than usual), remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can, and a little extra Kraft Dinner and Netflix Kids for a couple weeks won’t hurt anyone.
- Communicate with your partner. If you have a partner, let them know if you have a major deadline so they can pick up some of your slack, and vice versa. Communication is key to ensuring that you both get your work done!
- Facetime grandma. Sure, grandma wont be able to offer hugs and kisses, but she can play the authority figure in the house for a while if you are on an important call. Plus, it’s a great way to interact with loved ones without risking contagion.
- The mute button is your best friend. If you are on a phone call with a crying kid, take advantage of the mute button when it is not your turn to speak.
- Talk to your kids about what is happening. Harvard Medical School offers in-depth information on how to do this. Remember, if you are stressed, so are your kids. Children thrive on daily routine and socialization, so the elimination of school and extracurriculars will take a toll on your children as well. Try to stay mindful of this as you plan your days.
With all its trials and tribulations, working from home has a significant silver lining. This is an opportunity to become a closer, healthier and stronger family. We trust that these conditions won’t last forever, and you’ll be back to having time to yourself soon!
For more tips on how to have a positive work from home experience, check out our other blogs:
- Tips for working from home during COVID-19
- How to maintain communication and productivity when working from home
- How to stay mentally and physically well during COVID-19
- How to manage newly remote employees