Even with lockdowns starting to lift, you may not be headed back to work full time yet. You might even be working remotely for the foreseeable future, as your employer considers downsizing office space or attempting to follow safety protocols.
Many people find remote work challenging. One of those challenges is working from home with the kids around. School isn’t slated to start until September, and many childcare centres remain closed. Some parents are nervous about sending their kids to a daycare, or they cannot secure a spot.
If this is the situation you’re facing, these tips will help you balance working remotely and parenting the kids.
Set Boundaries for Everyone
The first trick to working remotely is to set clear boundaries. While most people try to set boundaries with the kids, they aren’t as good at setting boundaries with their teammates, employer, or themselves.
Try to delineate when you’re “at work” and when you’re “in leisure mode.” Sometimes, just switching clothes could help. This offers a visual cue, and it can also affect your own mentality. When you have your “business clothes” on, it’s time to do work and be productive.
Young children won’t always respect this visual cue, but they can learn it. It’s also important for remote workers to set their own boundaries, since they otherwise run the risk of being “at work” constantly, because they never leave the office.
Set Realistic Expectations
The next step to balancing remote work with children is to be clear and upfront with your employer and team members about what you can get done and when.
There will be days where you must crunch a deadline. There will also be days when one of the kids gets sick, or you have to deal with a toddler temper tantrum. Be honest and admit that these days will happen.
Next, consider your productivity. Can you manage a couple of solid hours of work before the kids wake up? Maybe you do your best work later when they’ve gone to bed or during their nap. You might be able to trade off duties with your significant other, or you may be able to call in the help of a babysitter, assistant, or even a friend or relative with kids.
Determine a schedule for when you’ll be able to sit down and get work done. You can’t expect the kids to play quietly for eight hours a day uninterrupted, so make sure you accommodate for interruptions and more.
By doing so, you’ll help both your team and yourself. You won’t feel quite as crunched or stressed, and the team can adjust their expectations to be more realistic.
Don’t forget to set realistic expectations about what can be done around the house too, such as housework and meals. Again, call on those around you to help you get through the day-to-day tasks. Ask your partner to help you divvy up chores, or get the kids in on the action.
The most important thing to remember is to communicate. If one of your kids gets sick and you’re taking the day off? Tell your team! If you’ve been interrupted 15 times and you’re just not going to meet that deadline? Communicate that to your team.
Good communication keeps everyone on the same page and helps them adjust their expectations or even their timelines. You may be surprised that a team member will offer an extension or assistance if you communicate that you’re struggling to meet a deadline.
Communication lets everyone know what can and can’t be done, and then your team may step in to assist. Remember that when you work together to meet a goal, you all win.
Working remotely can be challenging, and having children in the mix can make it feel overwhelming. These tips can help you balance your work role with your role as a parent.