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Managing Work from Home as a Parent

17 January 2022

Even though vaccinations have rolled out steadily in the United States, COVID-19 still persists. Many of the vaccinated population still want to wear a mask, sanitize and disinfect, and work from home.

Working from home allows for more flexibility but the major con is that distractions are much greater when you don’t have a superior watching your every move. Kids, in particular, although they are back to face-to-face classes, would still get in the way of your work. Your time, focus, and energy are spent more at home when you begin to work remotely.

It’s quite understandable if you end up being frustrated in balancing work, parenting, me time, and your social life. You can’t go on living like this so if you want change to happen, pause, breathe deeply and strategize. Yes, it’s tough to work efficiently while working from home with your family but there are many things you could do to rise above it. You heard it right—even though you’re a working parent, you could work productively without leaving your house! All you need is positivity and control over your life.

We listed down some actionable steps you could do:

Write down your expectations and manage it.

Write down your expectations and manage it.

Be kind to yourself. You are not expected to finish as many tasks as you could when compared to working in an office. Don’t feel too guilty for indulging yourself from time to time. You have to be realistic and manage your expectations of yourself, what is required of you from your job, and of others whose lives would be impacted by your work performance.

Sit down and be honest with yourself about the extent and limits of what you could give, considering your current set-up.

If you are not truthful, then people may expect more from you than what you could give. Be lenient with raising your kids as well. Understand why they do what they do and establish a compromise. For example, if they are spending a lot of time on their screens, there might be a bigger reason as to why they do. Ask and act accordingly. Giving in to a few of their requests won’t also mean that you are bad at parenting. These are trying times and we’re all just doing what we can to still have fun given the circumstances.

Be aware of your abilities and limits so that you could be upfront about it to your job.

It’s much better than they know what you can’t do instead of having to justify why you weren’t able to do something. This works for an understanding and supportive upper management but trusts us, it would be best if you disclose this on the get-go. Inform your boss right away when your calls are disrupted or you would be needing a deadline extension. When freelancing, add at least two days to the actual date that you would finish the job. The extra days would help you finish in case an emergency comes up or if you finish a day ahead, you would impress your client by submitting your output ahead of schedule.

Make your kids understand that you have a job to attend to.

Make your kids understand that you have a job to attend to.

Well, it still depends on their ages, but try your best to give them an idea when you are available and when you’re not. When you’re loaded with work, occupy your time with school tasks, a show, or food. You may set up a shared family calendar so everyone has an idea of one another’s schedule. This calendar should include chores, critical work hours, and times for family bonding. Add everything that your children need to be informed about. The chart will help all of you separate focused time from a more flexible task. You may even involve them by creating a checklist together of what to do for the day and have it crossed off every time it’s done.

Below are suggested activities for kids based on their ages:

From 3 to 7 years old:

educational phone or tablet apps
a cardboard box as a spaceship, house, etc.
live to stream of zoos or aquariums
trampoline, swing, or jump rope
drawing, painting, and coloring materials

From 8 years old to teen years:

free streaming books
science experiments
cooperative games that involve socializing, strategic thinking, and storytelling
coding lessons online
website creation or editors
other interests

Adjust your working schedule.

Adjust your working schedule.

Take advantage of the time when your kids are sleeping. If they sleep in your bed, get up earlier than the rest of the household and do as much work as you can while they are still sleeping. If your children are younger and sleep early, work in the evening. You could also work in the afternoon if your kids are tired from playing games all morning and are napping during this time.

Be adaptable.

Change your behavior accordingly. What might work for you today may not work tomorrow so adjust until everything is looking fine for you. This will help you manage your expectations and make you less frustrated with your setup. Do not fall into the trap of having a perfect and best strategy because such a method does not exist. Look at past scenarios and assess what worked and what did not. Ultimately, you have to decide if you want to go for a different approach or not.

Don’t be sedentary all the time.

Don’t coop up your children inside your house because it might just make them more agitated and they might end up interrupting your work more. Your children may become noisier and wilder so make sure you allot time for them to go outside and be able to run and explore your backyard. Make them play physically strenuous games so that they would be tired and worn out which will make them more relaxed for the rest of the day. They’ll also sleep earlier which means you will have time to work.

Define your office space.

Define your office space.

Have an area for work and let your kids know that you are busy and can’t be disturbed for this amount of time. If you have an area to be transformed into a home office, then great! If you only have an extra bedroom where a desk could fit, then great as well! Just make sure you lock the room and then advise your kids (if they are older) to only knock when they need something urgent.

Another thing to consider is your home office essentials. Do not work on a bed or a too comfortable chair where you won’t finish anything. Ergonomic furniture products are the way to go. Consider using a sit-stand desk to help you avoid back and neck pain. FlexiSpot is a company that could supply your standing desk needs based on your preferences. You may look for a desk size that fits your workspace or choose the type of material or wood for your home office theme. FlexiSpot has many standing desk options that would surely meet your standards. Ergonomic chairs designed to provide lumbar support, neck, shoulder, and back comfort are also great choices. A desk chair could also help you inject more movement in your sedentary desk job. FlexiSpot has these chairs, as well as ergonomic stools that promote active sitting.

Break down your work into small tasks.

Do small tasks that you could finish while your kids are sleeping or watching television. Accept that you won’t have uninterrupted time for three hours or so in order to finish a project. You do have time blocks that you could maximize to do your work in chunks divided throughout the day. When you focus on one task at a time, you’ll lessen your time for procrastinating and it will make you more accountable to your small task at hand. A lot of people discover that when they focus on one small task, they are able to finish it in 25 minutes versus having their attention divided, which leads to more than an hour of work.

Partner up with your spouse or co-parent.

You are not alone in this journey. If you have a partner, ask for his or her help to assist with childcare. Maybe you could go around your work schedules and work at different times of the day. Take turns when one has to be the parent and when one has to work. Coordinating with your better half works especially with children in the picture.

Devote time and commitment for self-care.

Devote time and commitment for self-care.

It’s not selfish to want to take care of yourself. You could be the person in your family and partnerships to understand your mental and physical well-being. So make sure to relax every now and then, and invest in self-care.