How to Work From Home When You're Not Alone
Posted on 20 March 2020
Working from home can present challenges, even for those who have worked from home before. When you have children around too it can get even trickier. Here are some approaches and activities that can help you craft your time to suit your role at work, as well as that of a parent.
Communication is vital in all aspects of life, especially with a family. It's important to talk to your family about when you will be free to parent and times when you need to be given the privacy you need to focus singularly on work. Also, let your children know that you need to work as a team in the situation.
Plan your day
Structure is vital for good mental health and keeping productive. This becomes doubly true when you factor in not being the only person in your house. Depending on how old your children are will determine how your plans look. You might need to account for naps and also figure out how much direct supervision they will need. Set out their day in tandem with your own so that they can keep active and happy while you go about your day. Also, as a rule, add extra time to tasks to allow for the unexpected.
Use your time wisely
For those who have younger children, nap times will be a part of their daily routine. It might be tempting to join them but resist the temptation. This time will be ideal for you to be productive and complete tasks that you might not be able to do at other times of the day or with the threat of interruption.
Create a dedicated office at home
The right environment when working can make all the difference. If you have a spare room then use that. If not, look for a suitable place within your house that ideally isn’t the kitchen table or the sofa. With children present you'll also want to factor in your office being somewhere that is easy enough for your children to find you when they need you, but isn't going to be a constant distraction.
Good ways to keep your child entertained
Setting your child in front of a bit of paper with pencils, colouring pens, paints or craft supplies can be a great way to keep them entertained. Add some fun to it by setting them themes.
A child's imagination is their most powerful tool, and reading books is a great way to build on this and get them to exercise the creative part of their brain. You might want to get them to draw out a scene from a part of the book they enjoyed after they've finished.
Audiobooks and podcasts
These are great ways to enable your child to learn and be entertained and informed. They're particularly handy if your child is at an age where they are not confident or able to read without supervision. Many of them are free too.
If you have a smart device or computer set aside for the children you can find no end of educational apps and games that they can enjoy while they learn. It's important to set screen-time limits; too much time in front of any kind of screen is not good for their physical health or their mental development.
It sounds obvious but toys such as board games, cards, construction sets, and puzzles can keep your children occupied for hours. Our tip is to make sure you rotate them heavily so that they don't suffer from being burned out on the same activity and toys too quickly.
Using their imagination
You can't force this suggestion, but when it happens it can lead to the child creating their own world in which to disappear for hours on end. The best way to try and coax it into existence is to give them some ideas. Perhaps bring out the toy box once more so they have 'props' and locations. In older children, suggest they write a play or a story to show you later on when your working day has finished.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed from time to time. It can be a difficult job to balance being a parent with your career at the best of times. Right now, parents all over the country are all in the same position. It is important to take regular breaks and to speak to other parents – keep the communication going so you know you are not alone. Remember too that this is a confusing time for many – especially younger children – so try and keep the mood upbeat and realise that they will be missing their friends as much as you are missing your space to work.