Unless you don’t see your children, there is no such thing as a part time parent.
This means that if you work full time, you are still a full time parent: you do not clock off your parenting duties from 9-5 (much as we would all like to from time to time!).
Working full time is such a privilege, but it’s a world that most parents try to keep entirely separate from their parenting life.
The thing is, Coronavirus threw a curveball no regular folks saw coming, and smashed those two worlds together.
Yep, we are now working from home full time, parenting at home full time and trying to model the best school teacher that we can.
That’s three roles in one, and that is enough to make any human being fold in half and cry.
The pressure and stress of trying to balance giving your all to your job while your kids are pulling on your arms for your attention can get too much sometimes.
We are not born with multiple sets of arms to get this working/parenting/teaching thing right – and that’s okay.
Tips You Need For Working From Home With Children
So, what do you do when your boss is demanding you meet your deadlines and your kids want you to come and play and their teachers are demanding that the kids work their workbooks?
How do you cope with all of that?
How do you make sure that you don’t let anything slide?
It seems like such a great idea to work from home, and in normal circumstances it would be!
Usually, the kids would be at school and you’d be chilling out in your office playing around with your invoice maker to ensure that you are able to get paid on time.
You would finish work during school hours and you’d have time to do the house bits and make delicious dinners.
The thing is, we’re not living in any kind of normal right now.
They kids aren’t in school and invoices are slacking because you just don’t have the time to catch up with it all.
The most important thing to remember before we dive into a Smorgasbord of tips for getting you through working from home with kids milling around, is that you are not alone.
You can be the adapted, flexible person you always dream that you will be – you just have to take the advice that we give you below and start putting it all together.
Your children have their own personalities and needs at this particular time in life, and you are more than equipped to help them to get through it.
No situation is a one-size-fits-all scenario, so don’t take these tips as gospel that they will work.
The important thing is to make it work for you as much as you can.
With that in mind, here are the Tips You Need For Working From Home With Children, let’s dive right in.
Let It Go
In the words of Elsa, it’s time to let it go. Let go of the tight reins that never stay tight, and get okay with not being perfect. It’s okay that things aren’t going well right now – we’re all in the same ocean of panic and pressure. Routines are lovely, but rigidity is not. So, let go of the rigid nature of your routine and let go of the timetables. You can talk to your boss about setting different hours than the nine-to-five while you’re working from home, and you can talk to the kids’ teachers about how much you can actually home educate while they’re at home with you. Then let go of the rest. The house will always wait: your sanity will not!
No More Ostriching
Are you hiding away from the phone when clients are ringing you? Do you dodge the Zoom calls from the boss and the school teachers? Stop hiding. It doesn’t solve your problem and it just means you have sand in your eyes. Burying your head in the sand over the sheer workload in front of you is a great way to ensure that you are dealing with things in the wrong way. Communication is key when it comes to doing well at home while the kids are with you, and you have to talk to your boss and your kids’ teachers. If your workplace is more rigid with their routines, then work the kids routine to fit you and make it work with the schools. You are not actually made of arms, you know!
Remember, The Kids
They see all, they hear all and they will imitate ALL. Kids will demand your attention when you cannot give it, and they will do this whether you are busy or not. It’s not that they’re trying to be naughty or anything; kids happen to need you and they are selfish that way. All they care about is that they need something from you and they will continue to ask until you give it to them. Without giving them what they need at that moment, they will become worried and it can escalate from a question to a temper tantrum (especially in little ones!). Implement a rule where you count to 10 in your head and then talk to them about what they need. Then set a timer – when the timer beeps, you’ll be right with them!
Invest In Your Tech
Headphones are a magical piece of equipment that you truly do need for your children to be able to play around you without disturbing you. If you are listening into a conference call but have the mic on mute, headphones with noise-cancelling qualities will help you to hear what you need to hear without interruption. Of course, headphones are always a better option when the other parent is in the house to help, too!
Make A Space
Yes, both your working world and your parenting world have collided, but that doesn’t mean that you’re sitting at the baby changing station to get work done. You need to carve out a little space that’s just yours, without children’s clutter and mess, and without sticky handprints. You can set up a desk in the bedroom to work from peacefully, and use the laptop at the table when you are in mixed parent/worker mode. You can try to avoid the family spaces, but you won’t manage it entirely. Having one place just for you to work from is going to help you to get it right, but that doesn’t mean that you should work 100% away from the kids. You can also invest in a tablet that’s more portable to work with when you need to be among the kids and concentrate at the same time.
Set Up A School
You do not need to replicate the actual school environment that your children attend every day, but you do need the kids to have a place from which they can work comfortably. Square off an area of the dining table, and get your kids working there with extra storage for pens, pencils, paperwork and notebooks. If you ensure that the kids are working comfortably, you know that they’ll be able to concentrate properly and get their work done. Learning hasn’t stopped because of the virus, so it should be able to continue in your home with minimal fuss. Don’t forget to talk to teachers, remind them that the kids will not be pressured to sit and do worksheets and activities for six hours a day.
One thing that may shock you when you work from home during lockdown is how much you’ll miss that office banter you may have had. Even if you don’t indulge in the gossip side of the office, just having your colleagues with you to chat with and laugh with will make a huge difference to your day. You’ll notice the social side of working in an office feels like it disappears overnight, but it doesn’t have to. Keeping colleagues on webcam or Zoom and chatting during the day can really help you all to feel less alone. Loneliness is difficult in a lockdown situation, but you can ensure that you are all connected together. If you can’t keep the camera on all day, you can instead talk about how hard it is to balance everything. Your work colleagues are more than the people you share an office with; they’re your friends. Treat them as such and don’t leave them behind.
You are still allowed to go for a walk every day with the kids, so bundle up against the cold and get out into the world. Stretching and moving around will change the headspace you will be in, trying to balance everything and stay upbeat? Not easy. You can’t always go and have a breather from the office, but when you can, go and have a little fun outside. Have races, make up games and get stuck into nature with the kids. You can tell the teachers they learned by doing!
Learning these Tips You Need For Working From Home With Children around is hard, but it’s not impossible and it’s not forever. You can do this!