Many people would love to be able to work from home. You get to spend more time at home, you don't have to drive to work, and you can spend a lot more time with your family.
On the other hand, there are some not-so-great aspects of remote working, especially for parents who have to work and take care of their kids: it's hard to focus, you have to work while taking care of your kids and, in some cases, homeschooling them, it's hard to tell when you're at work and when you're at home, and your kids will try to get your full attention when you need to work to a tight deadline or just get things done.
On not-so-great work-from-home days, you might feel like you didn't get any work done and were a bad parent - it's the worst of the worst. The good news is you can work and take care of your kids at the same time, but you have to change your expectations and the way you work.
Here are some of our best tips for working from home as a parent that will make your life easier.
Get Up Early
Getting up early can truly be a superpower when you work from home and you have children to take care of. It might sound horrible at first, but if you can get up a couple of hours before your children need to wake up for school, you’ll have all that time to yourself before the chaos starts. You might even find you are more productive during this time, leaving you with less to do during the day.
If your kids aren’t yet at school because they’re younger or it’s vacation time, just let them sleep in and still get up as early as you can for the same reasons mentioned above. Children need a lot more sleep than adults anyway, and you can focus on your work with no distractions. Another benefit is that you’ll most likely finish work early, giving you more time to spend with them.
Focus On The Positives
Some parents choose to work from home, but others have had to deal with this change out of the blue, making it even harder to cope with. Working from home has its own problems, that’s true, but everyone can find some good things about it, like not having to drive to work every day, spending more time with family, being home for dinner, or being able to work in your pajamas or comfiest casual clothes.
It won't always be easy – everything from computer performance issues to a demanding client can turn a day bad pretty quickly – but on hard days, it can help a lot to think about the good things and remind yourself of what you're not doing at work.
Just like at the office, it's important to have a place of your own where you can work without being interrupted. If your house is pretty big, you can use one of the rooms as a temporary office. If this isn't an option for you, you can set up a temporary work area in the living room, dining room, or even a bedroom where you won't be bothered too much by young children.
It's important to have a place of your own where you can work without distractions. Telling your kids that "working from home" means "working" is a good way to set limits. Tell them they can't bother you while you're working, and if they're good, reward them, even if you have to bribe them now and then.
Adjust Your Schedule
Just like children, adults need routines and work much better when they have a plan. Having a remote working routine helps us stay on task and avoid the slowdowns in productivity that happen when we try to do too many things at once or are constantly interrupted.
Make a morning routine and stick to it as much as possible to give your day more order and predictability. When it's time to wake up, get up and get ready for the day just like you would before going to work. Then go to your home office and get ready to work.
To make the most of the rest of your day, change your work schedule so that you have time for home life, such as breaks to relax or time to catch up on chores and care for your kids.
If you can, use a flexible schedule to make a routine that works for you and your kids. Keep in mind, though, that you can always change it to fit what's going on that day.
Give Children Goals To Achieve
During the school vacation time, when your children have less to do, but you still need to work, it’s a good idea to give them some goals to achieve. By giving your kids a little bit of homework every day, you can keep them from falling too far behind during their time away from school, but if you can make it a fun contest or offer a reward, it won't be such a chore. Find out every day what exercises they have to do and when they have to be done. Take some time after you get off work to look over their homework with them. It will show your kids how to get things done on their own during the day.
Kids who are a little bit older can also do small jobs around the house. Let them wash the car, pull weeds, load and unload the dishwasher, clean their room, etc. It will keep them busy, and you won't have to do these things, giving you more time to spend with your family.
Work In Short Bursts
Parents of babies and young children have it harder than most because they can't leave them alone. If you are in charge of taking care of kids, you may want to work in short spurts when you can, like when the children are napping.
But if you're lucky enough to be able to focus on work while your partner takes care of the kids at home, set up your schedule so that you can help out every once in a while instead of staying in your office all day.