Working remotely has its benefits for parents. Balancing parenting with work while your little ones are around, though, can feel like a tightrope walk. Liz Foster offers these tips for how to better manage remote work with children.
1. Perfect Your Workstation
Having the kids in the home while you try to work is going to be distracting enough, even if your partner or another caregiver is watching them, so you need to have a workstation that is set up to limit distractions as much as possible. If you’re able, establish your office in a separate room or area of the house. Consider putting up a screen or room divider if you need to be in the same area so that you aren’t visually distracted.
Invest in a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones. If your cellphone isn’t necessary for work, keep it put away so that notifications won’t steal your attention away from work. Likewise, you should remove any apps from your computer that aren’t work-related to limit distraction.
2. Commit to a Schedule
Adults working from home benefit from a schedule, as do kids, according to the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center. Establish one early on and don’t deviate from it unless absolutely necessary. Plan activities that are engaging for your kids that aren’t noisy and can be self-managed. Make “quiet time” part of your schedule so that kids know there are times during the day when they need to be particularly quiet to accommodate any meetings you must attend.
Incorporate breaks into your day for the benefit of both you and your kids, and consider eating lunch together when possible to give your children some face time with you. This will help everyone recharge for the remainder of the workday, as well as help lessen distractions. If children know they will have scheduled time with you each day, it can minimize their desire to interrupt your work as they'll know they can talk to you later.
3. Plan for Emergencies
Even the best-made plans fail sometimes, so it’s important to have contingencies for when things go awry. Have emergency childcare in place in case you or your regular childcare provider are unable to watch the kids. When that isn’t available, have an emergency “bag of tricks” with ways to entertain and engage your children safely that can allow you to still work. This might include a movie you know the kids would love to see, a special art project that can be self-directed or a new toy that can entertain them for a few hours while you finish your work.
4. Adjust When Necessary
If your current setup isn’t working for you, consider going back to school online to earn a degree that can get you closer to your desired job in business, healthcare, education, and other industries. Many of these can be completed at your own pace so that you won’t have to worry about school getting in the way of your current job or caring for your children. If you want to continue working from home, there are many options in high demand, including website building and design and digital marketing. Do your research to see what profession will give you the opportunity to work and parent in a way you can be proud of.
Parenting while working from home can be tough, but the difficult bits can be managed with the right practices implemented and strong backup plans. Do your best, knowing at least your children will see you working hard to give them the life they deserve.
Written by Justin Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org