We all know that parenting is a 24/7 job and whether you’re a working or a stay-at-home parent, your children are a priority and their needs are constantly on your mind. For many parents, the one period of the day where we could focus on ourselves and our work is the time your kids spend in school or daycare. Now, with many kids isolating at home in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s become harder than ever to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
For many parents, the prospect of working from home and having their kids at home is the perfect storm. Images of the baby crying in the background of a conference call, your toddler painting the walls while you’re in a Zoom meeting or just the constant sound of children cartoons have been haunting parents’ dreams for the last few weeks.
Believe it or not, whilst this is going to be difficult, there’s plenty of advice and articles out there about how to make working from home work for both you and your kids.
These five practical tips may just help you keep your children entertained, your boss happy and your sanity intact!
1. If Your Kids Are Old Enough, Establish Time Boundaries Throughout The Day
Your toddler doesn’t care that ‘Mummy’s working’ or understand that, even though Daddy’s home, he can’t play. Older school aged children, however, are capable of understanding that this current situation is unique and can respect boundaries.
Sit down with your children and work out a schedule for the working day. Keep their lunch and recess scheduled as it would be at school and schedule your own breaks so you can spend that time together as a family. Schedule ‘subjects’ like one hour of reading for English and use of educational apps to teach maths and science and make sure to check on your children’s progress regularly.
In the afternoon between 3pm and 5pm, feel free to give your children a little extra screen time – remember this is a truly unique situation and you may need to bend your own rules a little.
2. Plan Ahead
As well as making your kids a schedule, make one for yourself – and stick to it! Try and align the most stressful parts of your workday to times you know your kids will be preoccupied. For example, during their nap, favourite TV show or even after bedtime. If you choose to work after your kids are asleep make sure you’re turning your computer off by a certain time so you don’t find yourself burnt out after working until midnight.
3. Do Something For Yourself
At times like these self-care is important. More than just a facemask or an at-home pedicure doing something that challenges your mind is a great way to break the monotony of social isolation. Skill up and advance your career from home with online courses, learn how to meditate, or craft that hobby you’ve been wishing to do more of..
4. Ask For Help
This is an unprecedented situation so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you, your colleagues, your partner and even your children. When deadlines are looming, communicate this to your partner and make sure you are sharing the parenting equally either trading off throughout the day or one parent handling ‘school hours’ and the other handling the time on either side.
However, if both you and your partner have deadlines at the same time or if you’re a single parent, this isn’t always a viable solution. Ask your work if you’d be able to change your working hours during this period, working early in the morning, during nap times and after your kids go to bed – as long as you’re getting the same amount of work done, your employer may not mind when you do it.
Finally, asking for help from your children. Older children can certainly understand that this is a stressful time and will be willing to pick up the slack, help around the house and entertain themselves. Even younger primary school aged children are incredibly perceptive and, if you explain that you have important work to do, may relish the opportunity to help and be more independent.
5. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
We all know how hardly we judge ourselves as parents. We love our children and we want the best for them and that can lead us to judging ourselves and putting our parenting in competition with others. During this difficult time remember it’s important to give yourself a break. Remember, this is a situation that nobody could possibly prepare for so nobody is going to judge you for giving your children extra screen time or a couple of bribes here and there.
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