Working from home isn’t always plain sailing. And this is especially true if you’ve got children in the house. Find the perfect balance between being a good parent and a productive home worker with our top tips.
1. Talk to your children
First and foremost, (and depending on their age) it’s important that you talk to your children about your new working from home setup so they understand the situation as much as possible. Explain to them why this particular change is happening, what it means for all of you and why it’s important that they help you transition in any way they can.
Try and establish some ground rules from the start so you all know what to expect. This will reduce the chances of issues arising further down the line.
2. Get up before your kids
Whenever possible, get up before your kids and plan the day ahead (for everyone). Whether you use it to prepare some meals for later, or take advantage of the quiet time to get some work done early, the very start of the day is one of your biggest allies as a parent working from home.
By using the time when your kids are still asleep productively, you’ll reduce the need to flit back and forth between your work and family duties throughout the day. This allows you to focus on the task in hand and, in turn, reduce the likelihood of you experiencing stress and burnout.
3. Schedule activities for your kids
You’re going to be busy working from home. At the same time, your kids need to be kept busy and entertained too.
Use your quiet time at the start of the day to plan what they can do while you’re working. It might be that you line up some kids movies for them to watch, create a learning schedule to keep them occupied or let them have some fun with puzzles, painting and colouring books. You can even boost their engagement and enjoyment by creating goals and rewarding them with small treats when they accomplish them.
4. Have a dedicated working space (with a door that closes)
Whether you’re working from home full time or just doing it whenever the opportunity arises, it’s important to establish boundaries between your work and your home life, otherwise both could end up suffering. The best way to do this is by creating a dedicated working space with a door that closes.
Now you might think that the closing door aspect can be overlooked, but it’s actually very important for two reasons.
First, it acts as a visual sign that you are working, which reduces the chances of you being disturbed and allows you to create the mental space to focus.
Second, closing the door to your home office when you’re not working will actually help you switch off. If you can see your workspace each time you walk past, your mind will immediately be drawn to work and you’ll start thinking about all the jobs you’ve got to do. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
5. Ask for help if you need it
As much as you think you can cope with successfully juggling work and life duties, there will be times when you simply can’t. Accept this and understand that there is no shame in asking for help.
It might be that you ask your boss and colleagues to be a little flexible with deadlines from time to time, or allow meetings to be shifted to accommodate your situation. Likewise, talk to your partner and/or family and create an arrangement that enables you to succeed, while meeting your children’s needs.