Juggling work with child care can be a big challenge for parents who aren't used to working from home, especially with a newborn baby that needs to be held constantly or with kids who aren’t in school.
We understand how hard it can be so we’ve put together some tips to help you through these unusual and challenging times.
Set up your workspace
Even if you don't have a home office, setting up a designated work area at home is important - let your kids know that you shouldn’t be interrupted while you are in work mode. I would recommend looking for a quiet corner of the house where you can set up your laptop and any other necessities to carry out your workload (hopefully without any disruptions!) The best way to do this successfully is to chat to your kids about the importance of getting through your work and let them know that they can help you to do this faster if they leave you in peace to focus fully. Chat about how long you need and come to an arrangement that you’ll make time for them when you’re done. Prepare snacks and make sure everyone has everything they need before you begin work.
Adjust your schedule
When you don't need to be on the clock at particular times in your career, consider changing your schedule to work while your kids are sleeping or during their less ‘needy’ times. If you work an 8 hour day, you could start early while your kids are the most quiet, take a longer lunch break or even start later and work in the evening while they are in bed.
Work in short bursts
When working from home with a young baby in tow can be especially challenging - since they are so unpredictable and require a lot more time and attention. Therefore, time-management is crucial. It’s amazing how much work you can get done in 25 minutes when you aren’t distracted by your phone or social media!
Embrace healthy screen time
No one will send you to parent jail for allowing your kids to hop on a tablet for a while - especially if you’re directing them to fun and educational resources. Sites like GoNoodle encourage physical wellness with an array of free activities. For school-aged kids whose classroom routines have been disrupted, stay on track with resources like Time for Kids and BBC Learning.
Prevent boredom for your kids by mixing things up
Children of all ages love finding something special and new to occupy them. Take a couple of minutes to go through their toys, arrange them into different containers, and only have a small few out to play with. Toy strew is a great way to get your kids excited about their toys. For example, start a puzzle and leave the pieces beside it, or set up a doll and stuffed animal tea party. I know my kids loved to play with anything messy - playdough and sand and water play never failed to bring great excitement and concentration and are great for outdoor fun in the good weather. Another favourite was tent or hut making with loads of cushions and blankets, this is a great one for both indoor and outdoor fun!
Encourage child-led activities
Direct your kids to activities that do not require your help or constant attention - there may be an adjustment period if they’re not used to playing solo. I would recommend keeping bits and bobs like cardboard packaging or cereal packets to paint and stick together to make things like fish tanks, dolls houses, robot costumes etc which will allow your kids to be really creative. They can paint, colour in or decorate with colourful ribbons, buttons, tinsil, glitter etc.
Online meetings with kids in the house
Got an important Skype meeting or rushing toward a deadline? Have some activities at the ready that your child loves and that can occupy them for 10 to 15 minutes. Time these around bath time / painting or colouring in sessions - anything that means they won’t need your help or input and that is unlikely to end up with them fighting or arguing with each other.
Look after your mental health
Working from home and caring for children at the same time can be incredibly stressful and exhausting, which is why it is important to make time for your own self-care. If you feel like you need time to be alone in another room to take a call, that’s okay. Don’t feel bad for putting yourself first once in a while. Dedicate at least half an hour just for you every day to take a breather and recharge and I promise, you’ll all reap the rewards.
Remember - you’re doing great!