When you are working part time and you have children, working from home can seem like the ideal solution.
You get to spend time with the kids and you get to earn a living at the same time. A win win situation.
For some of you, you might have chosen part time work from home jobs deliberately or at least chosen a role where you get to work from home occasionally. For others of you, during the pandemic, you might have found yourself having no choice to work from home and, with the kids having to be home schooled as well, life suddenly became a whole lot different with a completely new set of challenges to deal with and to overcome.
In this article, we will look at a few strategies for working from home when the kids are home at the same time. With a bit of planning, you can soon get a system in place where both yourself and the kids can get through the working days successfully.
Create A Routine
When you are at work and the kids are at school or nursery, the routine almost makes itself as you are working to set time is governed by others – you don’t want the kids to be late for school and you don’t want to be late for work.
Meals, tv, homework, bedtime are all arranged around this and that’s what the family works to.
If the kids and yourself are at home, that’s a whole day you need to fill and you might find the kids can start demanding more of your time if there is no routine. Before you know it, chaos will reign.
A set routine will help both you and your children to work their way through the day with fewer problems.
Set a weekday alarm so that everyone knows it’s time to get up and start the day. And make sure, when that alarm goes off, everyone in the house gets dressed for the day ahead. No sitting around in pyjamas.
Work around your children’s routines. If there is sleep time during the day or a set time where they watch tv for a while, this can be your work time.
Keep this routine as a daily timetable so that everyone in the house knows what to expect.
See And Be Seen
In an ideal world, you will have a dedicated office or studio space at home so that when you are working from home and not in the workplace, you can be more productive and concentrate on your tasks.
If you have a partner in the house or a child in their teens, they can support you in helping look after younger kids whilst you are working. Likewise, you can spend time with the kids whilst your partner is doing their work.
However, if it’s just you and the kids, you need to find a workaround for this problem. Obviously, you need to be able to keep an eye on them to make sure they are safe and doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Set your workspace up in an area where the kids can also have their space so that they know you are around and you know they are around.
If you have an older child who can help to keep an eye on younger siblings, set time aside for this to happen so that everybody in the house knows the routine. This can be your quiet time for getting on with your work tasks.
Set boundaries so that your children know this is your work time and you shouldn’t be disturbed unless necessary.
Let Your Children Be Independent
Just because you are working from home and the kids are in the house with you, that doesn’t mean you have to spend every waking moment looking after them.
Depending on their age, encourage them to be independent and manage parts of their day themselves. At lunchtime, this could be a time where you all take time out for an hour and sit together to eat lunch and have a chat about how their day and your day is going.
At snack times, it is unproductive for you if your children are coming up to you, complaining they are hungry and asking for you to go and prepare them a snack.
Have healthy snacks pre-prepared so that your kids can go to the kitchen and help themselves to0 whatever they need without disturbing you.
Likewiğse, make sure your children know where their necessary equipment is for them to complete school work or to entertain themselves.
Be Flexible With Your Time
It depends on the type of role you are doing but lots of part time jobs where you can work from home don’t necessarily need to be done strictly within office hours.
So, if the kids are at home and you want to spend as much time with them as possible, be kind to yourself and allow yourself to do that. You can then do your work tasks in the evening when you have put the kids to bed or in the early mornings.
Again, depending on the nature of your work, use technology to help make your life easier and give you time to be with the kids. Any social media posts, for example, can be set up the night before and scheduled to go out at set times throughout the following day or days.
Communicate With Others
When you are working at home with kids, chances are plans will need to change quickly, sometimes. That’s the nature of being around children.
Make sure you communicate with your management team at work and other members of staff on a regular basis to keep them up to date with where you are up to and any schedules you might need to rearrange.
When you are communicating with conference calls – and we all know there have been far more of these during the Coronavirus pandemic – keep your workmates in the loop regarding your work but also communicate with them on another level, too.
Ask them about their day or their week and what they have been up to outside of work. If they are working remotely and have kids to deal with at the same time, talk to each other about how all that is going. Even with your best laid plans, your days will need to be adapted sometimes. Ask your colleagues what they are doing to deal with their situatioın and share ideas.
If you feel like you must be doing something wrong because working from home with your kids is not going swimmingly, you’re going to feel so much better when you realise others are in the same boat as you are.
Talking and laughing about situations that haven’t gone according to plan is going to lift your spirits and you’ll know you are not the only one trying to juggle work and looking after the kids.
Be Prepared On Conference Calls
We’ve all seen the horror / comedy stories on social media. Professional person at home on a conference call with colleagues, talking to the screen.
But then we notice the background. Weird and wonderful book titles; dirty dishes piled up waiting to be washed; spouse pottering about in the background wrapped in only a towel and singing their favourite songs…and then there’s the kids. Squabbling in the background or popping up on the screen to say hi before they start to try and get your attention.
Especially since the Covid pandemic forced many people to work from home, everyone knows these things can happen. Again, it’s an acceptance that we are all huıman beings and working from home does not always go according to plan.
But there are steps you can take to at least make it look like everything is under control even if chaos might be reigning in the background.
If there is a strong chance of background showcases that you would really rather colleagues or customers not see, have a virtual backdrop or even a screen behind you so that there are no distractions for those you are talking to.
Also check your audio settings and have them set to mute unless you are the one talking. This can help to minimise background noise.
And if you are alone with the kids, it’s not foolproof but have a system where they know they shouldn’t disturb you when you are on a conference call. This could be some sort of physical signal on your desk or near to their area. Something that they understand to mean, ‘Do Not Disturb.’
Be Kind to Yourself, Be Philosophical
If you have got children you will kınow that no two days are ever the same. We can all have plans in place to make sure working from home with the kids goes as smoothly as possible but there are always going to be times when these plans will need to change.
That’s completely fine and it doesn’t mean you have failed. Be kind to yourself and be philosophical and know that this will be the case.
Having the opportunity to work from home whilst your kids are growing up can be challenging but also hugely rewarding. It is not an opportunity that is available for everyone so make the most of those special moments and enjoy the journey.