Top Tips For Coping As A Parent Working From Home
By Katie Herridge | March 19, 2020
With schools closing this week and many parents required to work from home, full-time remote worker and mother of two boys, aged 10 and 12, Katie Herridge offers her advice and tips on juggling childcare, self-care and the pressures of work.
1. Get everyone up and dressed as normal, and try to get everyone out of the house/into the garden (wherever you can) for some fresh air before you are due to be online. Make sure you give the children your time and attention (don’t play and email at the same time).
2. Plan mealtimes. Work out in advance what lunch is going to be so you don’t have to waste time when you could be engaging with the kids or having a break.
3. Write down a schedule so you can set clear expectations of when you will be available and when you won’t be. Make yourself a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign so your children know when you are on an important call. If your child has been given a schedule they need to keep from school then build those times into your calendar so you can give them reminders when needed.
4. Accept that even with the best will in the world, children don’t always respect the fact you are on the phone. Make sure you are mindful to colleagues with kids. For client calls, step outside or ask a colleague to join you if you are worrying about being interrupted. A lot of clients will be in the same boat. Just apologize and mute your call if you need to deal with a crying toddler or squabbling siblings.
5. If you have two parents at home, give each other a break – alternate lunchtimes so that one parent manages the children and the other takes some headspace or split siblings up for the hour so that everyone gets a bit of one on one.
6. Look at who has children on your team and ask them what time would be the best to arrange calls etc. If they have younger children, perhaps nap time would work? For those with older children, perhaps mornings might be best before boredom sets in. Be considerate – some of your colleagues will have a lot to juggle right now!
7. Don’t play ‘work trumps’ with your partner over whose job is most important. Accept the fact that you will both need to get work done and look at times where you can use your diaries to help each other.
8. Even if children are old enough to get on with online school work, accept that they will need regular breaks and interaction. Encourage them to phone friends and work together on tasks. Make sure you take a lunchbreak and turn off your phone to let them have your full attention. Note: colleagues should avoid scheduling meetings over lunchtime.
9. Be consistent about switching off at the end of the day when you can so that they know when they can have your attention again. Put work away. Lighter evenings are on the way so schedule fun outside activities with them in the evening (if you can) and stick to the plan!
10. Don’t stress! If the plan doesn’t work – let it go. If you need to let screen time restrictions go for the day then so be it.
And don’t forget...
Breathe… sooner or later normal service will resume.