More parents have been working from home than ever before, making it essential to maintain a healthy balance when your kids and your job share the same space.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed so much about how we live and work, especially for parents who’ve had to adjust to working from home. We at UpTeam know that one of the secrets to keeping our team healthy, happy and productive is supporting employee family life and making sure everyone has what they need to thrive at work.
With that in mind, here are five tips to manage parenting and remote working.
1. Create separate spaces in the home
While every parent loves their kids, being cooped up with them for most of the afternoon can pose its challenges – so why not create different spaces that communicate to your loved ones when you’re ready to interact with them and when you need to be left alone for deep work?
Having a special place set aside for distraction-free tasks can help create a sense of boundaries that give you freedom to do your best work, all without needing to create a lot of distance from your kids. It could be a child-free office space, but creating a special nook in the garage, the guest room, the walk-in storage pantry, or even on the porch can help.
For most of us, though, working in this kind of space for long periods of time is unrealistic. Balance this out by creating child-friendly workspaces where you can spend time with your kid while doing less attention-heavy tasks.
2. Put some thought into setting a work rhythm
While having different workspaces is ideal, many of us don’t have that much room in our homes. When this is the case, developing an optimized work rhythm is another way to balance duties as an employee and as a parent.
Ask your employer for a bit of flexibility with getting things done (we’re always ready to have that conversation at UpTeam) so that you can shift around attention-heavy tasks to times when you have more focus or when your kids are able to be more independent.
3. Leverage your support network
Many couples, both during and beyond the pandemic, found themselves more often at home with the kids while working. Use this to your advantage – if one partner has to be on call for a few hours, the other partner can try to do less intensive tasks while keeping an eye on the kids. By tag-teaming, each partner will find themselves with more undivided work time while also being able to take coordinated breaks with the kids.
And this isn’t just something reserved for two-parent households: if you have extended family in town, especially grandparents or working siblings, having someone take all the kids for an afternoon can give everyone else a boost while making sure kids get the quality time they need.
4. Factor in school hours to your advantage
It’s not just work that’s been heading online more and more recently: it’s also been school. Many kids have been learning how to interact with their teachers on their devices, which means that working parents are more able to predict when their kids are going to be busy themselves.
If you have urgent deadlines coming up, meet with your family to plan out when you need to have more intense bouts of work, and see if you can match those times up with when your kids are already in the classroom.
5. Health starts with self-care
Being present to both your kids and your work comes down to far more than optimizing your schedule for productivity – it also depends on whether or not you’re taking care of yourself.
Working from home brings with it freedom, flexibility and power over your life, but it’s an adjustment that takes time and energy. Especially if you’re doing double-time as a parent. Making sure that you get enough sleep, are eating well and are getting enough exercise is key to excelling at all the tasks you set your mind to.
So forget “rising and grinding” – go for a walk with the kids. Make a nutritious lunch on break. Get in all the hugs you’ll need for the day. Most of all, adjust your expectations to your new life…and make sure you have fun while you’re at it.