We all know that locking ourselves in the bathroom for a zoom call doesn’t give the professional impression we are aiming for, but working from home and looking after children is not an easy juggle, and it can be hard to know how to make it work.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, more people have been working from home than ever before, and many of these have also been caring for children and trying to educate them at the same time. Succeeding in this environment, however, may be more about changing your mindset than changing the way you work, and you may find that the following guide is helpful as you negotiate this new dynamic.
How to Work From Home With Kids Successfully
This year has brought challenges that we have not previously imagined, as most parents are having to juggle parenting full-time with working from home, and this is not a natural situation for any of us. It’s a learning curve for everyone, but there may be unexpected positives to the situation too, and you may even find that working from home brings great benefits to your daily life, and that you wish to pursue this in the long term.
Here at CareerWise, we believe that working from home can be an excellent option for many people and can help you to achieve a work-life balance that is better for your health, your family and your productivity. Here’s how to make it work:
1. Set up for success.
If you’ve never worked from home before, it’s tricky to work out the best approach. Taking the time to find an area where you can set up your office or studio space is essential, and you will need to pay attention to details such as lighting and access if you want this to work in the long term. You should ensure that your family are on board with your plans to work from home and work out a system to let them know when you may be interrupted and when to stay away. A note on the door, colour coded for younger children, can be a very effective way to manage this.
2. Create a timetable.
A timetable is a great way to work out your priorities and set the scene for a harmonious balance between work and family life. Consider the times of day that are most productive for you and don’t be afraid to try out new methods of working to create a more flexible schedule. It may be possible, for example, to get up and work early in the morning so that you are able to take time to connect with your children when they are up and ready for the day. If evenings are a productive time, maybe you will choose to do the bulk of your work at this time and spend more time with the family during the day. The bonus of working from home is that you can structure your day to create a balance that suits you and your family, and taking time to get this right will have benefits for everyone. Don’t forget to include plenty of time outdoors in your schedule, as this is a surefire way to boost everyone’s mood and brings huge benefits for your mental and physical health.
3. Don’t set your expectations too high.
When you are trying to work, parent and educate at the same time, something has to give. Expecting perfection in every area will only set you up to fail and cause a great deal of stress in the family. Take your time to assess your expectations and set realistic goals that are manageable, especially at this time of high intensity. If you are suddenly at home, your children may think you are there for unlimited play, for example. It can be a difficult adjustment for them, too, so be sure to talk about it and embrace the positives for them as well as for you. It can help to talk with your colleagues and management to ensure that they know that you are juggling many different needs. This is an unprecedented situation for everyone and flexibility is key.
4. Fill their cup first.
It’s hard not to feel frustrated when you’re getting stuck into your work and a little voice pipes up, asking you to play. And beware the endless guilt if you have to say no! But with a bit of careful planning, you can prepare for the situation by spending some time bonding beforehand and helping your child to set up for independent play. Suggest a board game or play with an open ended toy such as lego or playdough with your child for twenty minutes before you have an important call to make, and then explain to your child that you will be back to continue later. You could try setting a few goals for your child while you are unavailable, considering their age and ability, to gain an extra few minutes of inspired, self-led play.
5. Don’t forget to fill your own cup.
It’s not just your child who will function better and feel happier if their needs are met. Many parents put themselves at the bottom of the list when trying to get through the day, but this is a certain route to stress and frustration. Think about what nurtures you and gives you the motivation to keep going, and make time to support yourself as you are supporting everyone else. Don’t forget, scrolling through your social media accounts may keep you in contact with your friends but spending hours doing so each evening will leave you feeling wired and unable to sleep. Limiting your time and giving yourself a foot massage, having a long bath or curling up with a good book will allow you to really unwind and prepare for the next intense day of work and parenting.
6. Tag Team.
Parenting is not meant to be a solo activity, and the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is true – without even getting started on home educating and working from home at the same time! If both parents are working from home, set up a schedule where you each take turns being the parent on call, and work this around your fixed work commitments. If you are a single parent or your partner is working out of the home, call on other relatives to help by having them video call with your child(ren) and play games over the internet, for example, while you grab a little work time.
7. See the positives.
This is a strange moment in history, and although stress and anxiety levels are collectively high, it is not all bad. There are, if we seek them out, many reasons to feel positive right now, and focusing on these can be very helpful to maintain a positive mindset. Many people are enjoying taking life at a slower pace, and spending more time with the children means getting to know them better and seeing milestones as they happen. Spending less time commuting may also save you a great deal of time, stress and fuel each day, and, perhaps most importantly of all, the planet is benefiting from the slow down.
The key to a successful balance when you are working from home with kids is to focus on the different needs within your family and figure out how to make it work for everyone. Sometimes, your solutions may look strange to others but if they tick the boxes for your family, that’s ok – making conference calls from the paddling pool might not work for everyone but if it keeps your boss and the kids happy, go for it!
Find Recruitment Agencies in Ireland
CareerWise is Ireland’s leading specialist Technical and Executive Recruitment firm, and our team can help you to find the best positions in the Medical Device, Sciences/Pharma and ICT industries. We can work with you throughout the recruitment process, from finding roles that interest you to designing your CV and polishing up your interview skills, and we can help with ideas and techniques for working from home.
Our friendly team know the job market inside out and we are committed to finding the best positions for engaged and talented professionals across Ireland. We are based in Cork, Shannon and Galway, so simply contact us online now or call us on +353 (0) 21 206 1900 to arrange a consultation and find out how we can help you to secure the job you want.
Joe Robbins is co-founder of CareerWise Recruitment. A graduate of the University of Limerick (Degree in Business Studies, 1985), Joe worked in the UK for five years where he specialised in materials management, production management and plant management for a number of companies.
He returned to Ireland in 1992 to become Operations Manager for a Cork-based start-up, FMC Automotive Division which was subsequently taken over by Snap-on Equipment. Joe managed the business re-location of this company to Shannon in 1997 before setting up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999.
He is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Mid-West region, and a former Director and Vice President of the Shannon Chamber of Commerce. Joe is former Chairperson of the Sixmilebridge Camogie Club and current Chairperson of the Clare County Camogie Board.
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