Useful Tips To Help Parents Working From Home
Easing The Pressure
Leigh Gillatt • Careers Advice
USEFUL TIPS TO HELP PARENTS WORKING FROM HOME
Despite it being named as the ‘New Normal’, with the passing of each day, the UK slowly moves closer to a more recognisable level of normality. In the coming months our kids and students will begin transitioning back to schools and universities, and this “should” mean things also start to get a little easier again for parents who are still working from home. We emphasise the word ‘should’.
In reality however, with the possibility of a second wave this autumn/winter or localised lockdowns still looming over us, there could still be a strong possibility that kids are going to be spending more time at home than what we have been used to previously. Add to this the fact that many workplaces are also still taking precautious returning beck to the office measures, there could be a prolonged period of us having to balance parenting with working from home.
“hang on we’ve had over 5 months of this already, we’re getting the hang of it now”, I hear you say, however, it never hurts to hear some valuable tips on coping with this, some you may not have thought about yourself, so without further ado here are some of the key tips we've collected from parent that have been working from home recently.
1. Communicate With Co-workers & Be Realistic
Be honest with your manager(s), and yourself, about the workload level you can realistically cope with, and maintain communication throughout in case anything changes, and also so you have other adults to talk to; some of your co-workers are undoubtedly experiencing the same challenges you’re currently facing.
We’ve also already seen the benefit of staying connected with the work colleagues companies have been approaching the idea of heading back to normal office operations, with many wanting to know if their staff members are ready and feel comfortable to do so.
2. Structure Your Working Day & Maintain Boundaries
It's important that you structure your working day, not only to maintain a certain degree of normality in workflow, but also to allow you to set boundaries into the structure so that you know there is a clear divide between ‘work time’ and your ‘own time’. This will allow you to maintain a better work life balance and avoid burn out from overworking.
You could perhaps set a few ground rules that all members of your family know, for example that there are certain parts of the house that are deemed as your workspace and off limits during certain hours of the day. You could also strategically place note pads in case a family member has to take a work call in your absence. If rules like these have perhaps lapsed a little since the lockdown began, it might be time to sit down and re-establish them before any future lockdown changes occur.
3. Work Flexible Hours If Possible
Fewer people have been working the typical 9 to 5 period during lockdown, especially parents that have had to restructure their days around to accommodate home learning. We know of a few that have had to cram in a few hours work before everybody else has woken up in a morning just to squeeze the maximum efficiency out of each day.
If your employer allows, and can accommodate it, try to work the hours that best suit you and your family, but realise that you might not be able to achieve as much during a day as you would have ordinarily done in the office.
4. Schedule Some ‘Me Time’
Now that lockdown restrictions are really easing, there’s no excuse not to take a break from the computer and get outside if you can. Take the opportunity to have some ‘me time’ and clear your head and put your mental health first. If you’d rather not go solo, take the kids with you and let them let off some steam too, it’ll do everyone some good both physically and mentally.
5. Parenting In Shifts?
A lot of working from home parents with younger kids have been splitting the parenting in shifts, with one looking after the kids in the morning and the other taking over in the afternoon. This doesn’t work for everyone however, as employers may require both parents to work the same hours for example, but this type of thinking outside the box could be a great solution for some.
6. For Those With Babies & Toddlers
Taking advantage of nap-time seems to have been the holy grail advice for many parents with this age group of children. When the children are awake, they’ve advised that keeping doors open and themselves visible has help prevent those little tantrums out of frustration.
7. Make Increase Screen Time Productive
It’s inevitable, that screen time has gone up not only for ourselves but also for children of all ages, and given the circumstances and changes, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Try and maintain its usefulness and productivity by installing apps or other software that kids can actually learn something from. An additional benefit of adult supervised software and technology usage, is that it allows kids to stay in touch with their own friends and family, after all they need the human interaction with similar age groups just as much as we do.
Balancing parenting and working from home is far from being the easiest job in the world. In fact, many have found it to be just the opposite. The upside is that the COVID-19 crisis has, and is continuing, to teach us new ways to do both. If you're looking to ease the pressure of coping with parenting whilst working from home, we hope that adopting some of these tips will help you do that.