We’re currently experiencing a pandemic that is turning our normal routines upside down. Many of us are working remotely and schools and nurseries are shut down, which is leaving parents in a challenging position.
If you’re currently working from home while looking after your kids, there are a few strategies you can put into place to make this unprecedented situation a little easier.
1. Divide and conquer where possible
If both yourself and your partner are currently working from home, devise a new schedule where each of you will be responsible for your children at different points during the day. One of you should work as much as possible while looking after the kids in one room, while the other parent can focus/attend online meetings in a different room, then switch it up.
It’s practically impossible to work during normal hours if you have children to look after as well, so prepare to be flexible and work odd hours if that suits you better. It may take a bit of time to adjust to your new schedule, but if you make a plan and follow it through you will be successful.
2. Communicate with your manager and co-workers
If working your normal hours is going to be a struggle, be sure to be upfront with your boss about the situation. Many people are experiencing the same challenges as you, so your manager should be understanding as long as you approach them with a clear plan of action.
Let them know your situation and the schedule you are putting in place so it’s clear when you will be available for calls and collaborative work. When it comes to working remotely, communication is key and will help to reduce stress.
3. Create a new daily routine and stick to it
Having our normal daily routines turned upside down can cause anxiety and it’s only natural to be worried during this challenging time. However, creating a daily routine for you and your kids will help. Get your schedule written down and pin it somewhere you and the rest of your family can see it and refer to it throughout the day.
Incorporate different activities like reading, puzzles, or fort building alongside “school time”. Teachers are providing lots of online help and resources to assist with this. Toddlers will also benefit from a consistent routine that includes playtime, activity time, snack time and nap time. Rationing screen time for your children is also key if you want them to focus and engage with a variety of activities.
4. Implement “do not disturb” signs and cues
It can be difficult to really get your head down without any distractions when working from home with kids. If you are able to work in another room with the door closed while your partner keeps the children entertained that would be ideal.
However, if you are unable to move into a different room there are strategies you can put into place to minimise disruptions. Designate one area for working and build an association that when you are sitting there you should not be disturbed. You could get your kids to create a sign that you can put up when it’s important for them to be quiet and not barge in i.e. when you have a meeting or important call.
5. Provide options
Giving your children a say in what their activities, snacks and meals are will help them to be more independent which will help you to get on with your work. You could create individual daily snack boxes that they can help themselves to so that they don’t have to ask you. For young children, you could create little activity stations that they can choose to go to.
6. Spend breaks with your kids
If you’re being more flexible with your daily work schedule, you should have more time to take breaks during the day that can be spent with your children. You could use this time to get into some schoolwork, get some fresh air, video call family members, or spend some time playing. If you can give your children your full attention at certain times during the day, they should find it easier to get through your working blocks without you.
Bringing it all together
Having to juggle your work and your kids without external support is tricky, but not impossible. What’s key is putting into place a new structure where everyone can be happy and entertained and when the going gets tough, remember this isn’t going to last forever!