Working from home with kids: a survival guide for parents

Find the balance between parenting and working from home with these tried and tested tips.

April 27, 2020
Angelique Parungao

There are a lot of upsides to working from home as a parent: you’re closer to the kids, you save costs on child care, and you have more time to spend with them now that you don’t have to commute. But needless to say, this setup also comes with its own set of unique challenges. According to a survey conducted by Regus, 48% of respondents reported that children or family demanding attention was the number one issue when working from home. So if you’re a parent out there who finds themself in the situation of having to juggle both work and child care while you’re at home, here are our top tips for succeeding in both.

Talk to your children

The first step to working from home as a parent is to try to get your children to understand the situation as much as possible. Talk to your kids about the change that’s happening, what it means, and what help you need from help to make the process a bit more smooth. If possible, set up some basic ground rules for them to follow and communicate them clearly and early on to avoid conflict down the line.

Talk to your colleagues

In the same vein, it’s important that you communicate this set up to your teammates or manager in advance as you transition to working from home. By doing so, you’ll be able to transparently set expectations from the beginning and avoid any conflict from arising, should your children cause any unexpected disruption or inconvenience to your work.

Get up before the kids do

Waking up early gives you a good window of time to prepare the day ahead for both you and your children. Use this time to prepare meals, plan a schedule or set up things they need for their activities. By doing so, you’ll reduce the need to juggle both your work and home duties throughout the day, which can prevent you from performing either things well and increases the likelihood of burnout.

Set up your designated workspace

Create a space in your home as your dedicated workspace. While some parents find it ideal to have space where they can close the doors if they need to, others prefer an area where they can still keep an eye on their kids. Whichever way you prefer, set boundaries and ensure that your children know that this is your “office” — you being in this dedicated space means you’re at work and shouldn’t be disturbed.

Schedule activities for them

As you get on with your tasks for the day, it’s important that your kids are kept busy too. Find videos they can watch, create a study schedule to keep them occupied or give them recreational tasks like puzzles, coloring books, or painting that they can do on their own while you work. Boost motivation by setting up goals and rewarding them when these targets are accomplished. Top tip: be sure to sync these activities with your own schedule to keep both of you occupied at the same time.

Establish a balanced workday routine

Juggling a day’s schedule for both work and child care is undoubtedly difficult, but isn’t impossible if you stay organized. A good tip is to break down your tasks into short time blocks — maybe 30 or 45 minutes long each. During this time, you can focus entirely on the task at hand and know that your kids are occupied on something that will take a similar length of time. Once that’s over, take a quick break to check up on them before restarting the next work block. To master this, set up your calendar in a way that blocks out these breaks, ensuring that the slots dedicated to checking in on your kids can’t be booked by conference calls during this time.

Ask for help when you need it

As much as you want to do it all, there’s no harm in asking for support from people around you. Be honest to your team about your situation, and ask to reallocate work, shift deadlines or reschedule meetings if you have to. At the same time, be sure to communicate with your partner and find a setup that allows both of you to succeed while keeping the children happy and safe.

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