In the past few years, there has been a rise in remote work. People are opting to work from home as opposed to going to the office. Working from home may be a welcome change from the daily commute to the office, or it may be a regular part of the workweek. But what happens when your children arrive home unexpectedly?
How do you balance getting the required work done, being present for your team, and entertaining your child? As the number of people working from home increases, whether temporarily or permanently, here are some tips for working from home with your children.
Share information with your manager and team
Several other parents on your team are likely experiencing the same situation. Informing your manager and team that your children will be at home improves their understanding of your work environment and their support for you.
If you need to manage your day differently than usual, sharing your schedule in advance will keep everyone on the same page so there are no surprises. Check your calendar to see if you need to schedule breaks so that you can organize new activities for your children and feed them lunch or open snacks. If you have a schedule, it will be easier to determine when you may need a break.
Define work zones and play zones
To maintain your child’s interest, you should designate a specific space for play or activities. Crafts, books, and a variety of activities that can be rotated throughout the day will help to keep children’s attention. You could also devise inventive means of entertaining your child.
For instance, if your toddler is misbehaving prior to a call, walk around the house with them while you are on the phone. This strategy may also assist them in finding something more engaging to do, allowing you to return to work. Tote bags containing simple activities and toys for toddlers are an excellent way to rotate toys and maintain the interest of young children.
Be compassionate and adaptable
Encourage everyone to overcommunicate their needs; sharing information such as your schedule, time off, meetings, deliverables, project statuses, and the feedback and inputs you require from others will make everyone’s workday more efficient. Maintain an open and consistent line of communication to ensure that everyone is aware of this information.
It is essential to demonstrate empathy when a member of your team is stressed in order to help them feel supported, included, seen, and heard. This does not obligate you to feel sorry for them. Listening to what they are experiencing, attempting to comprehend how they are feeling, and recognizing the difficulty of their situation are the essential components of empathy.
Above all, empathy is about connecting with teammates to demonstrate genuine care and regard. When a coworker approaches you with a concern, helping them feel heard and validating their feelings will help them feel like they’re not alone and are still an important part of the team.
Ask your team how they are feeling, how their families are doing, and how their day has gone so far in order to facilitate communication. If you are a parent with children at home while working remotely, share how your day is going, what your children are doing to keep busy, and any resources that may be useful to other parents on your team.
Get up and ready yourself
Even though you are not going to work and your children are not going to school, taking a shower and putting on real clothes will help you feel prepared for the day ahead. It may also preserve the sense of normalcy and structure that children desire. In addition, you will be able to join a video call at a moment’s notice without worrying about your attire or whether you need to brush your hair. Your children will also experience distinct phases of the day. Instead of spending the entire day in pajamas, they will be able to shift into different activity periods if they change into play clothes.
Do not expect to devote your undivided attention to a single task for an extended period of time unless you can divide your duties with someone. If working at home with your child is a temporary arrangement, it may be beneficial to relax the typical rules regarding screen time. Know when your child has reached his or her limit without your supervision.
Even if only for a few minutes, giving them your attention and time to connect with you can satisfy their need and reset them for another independent activity. If you and your partner can share parenting responsibilities during the workday and take shifts, you may be able to work from home. Each of you has dedicated time to work while the other takes care of the children. If more frequent handoffs are required, evaluate schedules in the morning and develop a daily plan. Be patient with your child, your partner, and yourself above all else. Even under the most favorable conditions, juggling work and parenting is difficult.
Parents who work full-time are accustomed to the near-constant pressure of managing ongoing projects, practices, meetings, doctor’s appointments, business travel, and childcare arrangements. The increased feelings of pressure to consistently deliver at work and for our families, combined with the additional mental burden of having our children with us at work, can significantly increase stress levels.
However, it would be prudent to keep in mind that this is only a temporary setback. Long-term, you will return to the office or the children will return to school, and your life will return to normalcy. The most effective way to work from home with children is to keep in contact with your coworkers until that day arrives. Hopefully, they will comprehend your situation and make every effort to accommodate you.