Working from Home with Kids

Working from home with kids of any age can be challenging! With more parents working from home, it’s important that employers are aware of the challenges this poses and it’s also important for families to get a healthy work-life balance. Read on for our best tips..

 Introduction – Working parents at home with kids

The idea of working from home with kids can be a terrifying thought – how will I manage my work and supervise my child? How will I get any work done? Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned this thought into a reality for the vast majority of people around the world. With many daycares closed or limited, and schools moving to remote learning, there is a new, increased pressure on working parents.

working from home with kids
Be kind to yourself and realistic! If working from home with the kids around is proving too difficult – it’s ok to allow them some screen time

This is especially true for parents with younger kids (children 6 and under), who may struggle with constant crying, tantrums, and elevated safety concerns (like for those younger toddlers who are still figuring out their environment). There are numerous challenges associated with working from home with kids, including the responsibility to oversee remote learning, not having your usual resources (like daycare or in-person school), and balancing expected working hours, with screen time for kids, and the same workload with supervision and child care duties too.

Working from home with kids – are there more parents doing it?

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, two-thirds of Australians are working from home. With the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic and what experts are calling the new ‘Covid normal’, working from home (or least more flexible work arrangements/schedules) and virtual learning (or some variation of a remote learning setup) are likely going to become the norm. For many with young kids, this new dynamic is difficult and challenging to say the least.

Common challenges of working from home with kids

There are many challenges when it comes to working from with kids.

Some common challenges include:

  • Difficulty finding a work-life balance (for example, wanting to play with your children when they ask but also meeting work responsibilities)
  • The new responsibility on parents for distance learning
  • Having to worry about your own work while thinking about household duties (for example, going out for a quick grocery run during work hours)
  • Dealing with the noise level of children while you have to work or have virtual meetings or conference calls with coworkers
  • Not having the same (or any) access to daycare or childminding due to changing restrictions
  • Blurred lines between work and home life
working from home with kids
The added pressure of kids learning remotely from home makes things more challenging – try to encourage your kids to ask their teacher for help when possible, rather than coming to you too often

“Work is interfering with the enjoyment of working from home!”

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Working from home with a baby – can it be done?

While it may seem impossible, working from home with a baby can be done (in fact, it may be easier to work from home with a baby than with a toddler!). At first, it may seem like a lot to try and work from home with a baby, however, a huge advantage to working at home with a baby is that young babies (especially anywhere from 2-6 months old) may sleep a lot. You can structure a work day around a baby’s many naps; while it may not seem ideal, it can actually be beneficial to ‘scatter’ your work throughout the day and make time for breaks when your baby is awake. Just remember, this dynamic won’t last forever. If you need to, reach out for help.

working from home with kids
If you’re baby sleeps a lot, work from home will be easier but if not, you may need to hire some help from family or from a babysitter

Working from home with a toddler – can it be done?

Of course it can, but it will prove challenging. Toddlers are loud, constantly on the move, and getting into nearly everything (except their toys!). Toddlers, unlike their younger counterparts, don’t typically stay in the same place for long; they are always on the move and exploring their surroundings. One of the best ways to manage working from home with a toddler is to ensure you have a ‘safe space’ in your home, such as a playroom or the living room, that your child can play in (and one that they potentially can’t get out of).

Depending on the age of your toddler, you likely will have to supervise them constantly, whether you’re in the room with them or not. You’ll want to make sure that wherever your child has access to is safe and completely free of any hazards. If you aren’t able to be in the same room throughout the day, you should consider setting up a camera or video monitor to keep an eye on your little one. If you’re able to, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of family or a sitter who can help you, even if it’s for a few hours per day, it will help you to get more work done.

 You may be able to improve your work-life balance by changing your home and work arrangements to accommodate the demands of this new dynamic. This could mean speaking with your partner about your job duties and what you need from them in terms of support or speaking with your boss to create more flexible hours or schedule.  

Working from home with kids – Top Tips for a work-life balance

Here are a few top tips for making the most of working from home with kids:

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working from home with kids
Try to set clear boundaries with your kids – have organised activities ready for them if possible
  • Enlist the help of family members; call in the grandparents if you can! Having a small list of family members you can call in a pinch (or to schedule daily babysitting duties) will be extremely helpful as you work from home
  • Reach out for help if you need it; if you don’t have family or friends close by, you can hire a babysitter or nanny to come into your home to watch your children while you work
  • Prepare materials ahead of time; make ready-to-eat/serve meals and snacks and prepare arts and crafts or other activities to keep your children occupied (you’ll thank yourself later).
  • Be open and honest with your kids; tell them about your work and what is expected of you throughout the day (for example, if you have a babysitter and your child keeps coming to you, you need to firmly, yet lovingly, remind your child that you are working, and the babysitter can attend to their needs). If they get upset, remember, this does not make you a bad parent!
  •  Set clear boundaries with your children; this may be easier said than done, especially with younger kids, but you need to be firm and remind your child(ren) that you’re working.
  • Set up a dedicated workspace or home office; research shows that having a space dedicated to ‘work hours’ and free from other distractions (like tv), helps you to be more productive.
  •  Ensure your children have a safe space or play area. For older children doing remote learning, you should ensure that they are set up with everything they need to complete their schoolwork, which saves you from running around trying to gather their materials throughout the day!
  • Schedule meetings when children are sleeping or when you know you won’t be interrupted
  • Talk to other parents who are in the same situation to see if they can share some tips too! You can also share what makes things harder and any tips you might have for them!
  • Try to create a routine if possible – this can be difficult at times but it might help to structure your day
  • If your partner has been outside of thr home to go to work, ensure that when they get home, the parenting responsibilities are shared – especially if you’ve had a difficult day trying to juggle work and parenting.
  • Be kind to yourself – if things are getting too difficult and you have constant interruptions, allow your child the TV time or the iPad time. This is not necessarily a form of permissive parenting, but rather a way to manage a difficult situation. If it’s temporary and it means you can give your undivided attention to your work in short bursts, it’s ok!

Final Thoughts – Working from home with kids

Remember, there are many parents who will have experienced the challenges of working from home with their children around. Every parent will have their own challenges depending on the age of their children, how many kids they have with them at home and how supportive their employer is.

working from home with kids
Remember to reach out for help if you need it! Working at home with children is hard!

At the end of the day, as long as you did your best, there’s nothing more that anyone can ask of you. Working from home with kids is hard! Keep in mind that this current situation may only be temporary. One of the best things you can do is try to manage and prioritize your well-being; working from home with kids is extremely stressful. Try to be mindful of your stress and implement the above tips to help you manage the challenges of working from home with kids.

Experts believe that employers may lose oversight of the mental health and capacity of employees with young children; it’s important to communicate with your boss or manager about your situation and ask for help if you need it (your boss may suggest job sharing or an alternate work schedule to help you). 

Have you had difficulty working from home with your children? What did you find the most challenging and do you have any tips to share? We would love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below!

Kenny

G’day! I’m Ken, and this blog documents my journey to becoming an awesome Dad! I would love for you to join along on my journey as I discover and learn how to become the best Dad I can possibly be, and manage this goal with my challenging work commitments!

Kenny has 27 posts and counting. See all posts by Kenny

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