This combination of factors proves especially challenging for working professionals with children who rely on daycare service while they pursue their careers. Parents have been left juggling their work-from-home responsibilities and the need to look after children whose routines have also been entirely disrupted by these circumstances.
Working from home with kids can challenge your ability to focus and be productive, but it can also create amazing opportunities to spend time with your children and shape their growth – and you don’t have to go it alone.
Procare is here to support you with our five best tips for how to work from home with kids.
How to Work from Home with Kids: Set Internal Expectations
For many of us, working from home with kids is a significant change to our daily routines. As with all such changes, many of us require a period of adjustment to get comfortable with a new routine and any new responsibilities that emerge as a result.
As a starting point, parents need to be kind and understanding with themselves as both they and their children adapt to the new normal of staying home together throughout the day. As a parent, realize that this is a period of transition, and that it’s okay if you don’t quickly and easily settle into a stable and productive new routine.
Realize that it’s okay if you struggle to split your attention between work and your children while working from home with kids.
Realize that it’s okay if your kids distract you a lot at first and you have trouble getting work done.
Realize that it’s okay if you get frustrated sometimes.
Child care providers know and expect that there will be challenging days, so they set their internal expectations to account for that. As a result, they learn to celebrate and be happy when things go well and to stay positive when things don’t go quite as planned.
This attitude creates an inclusive atmosphere of trust that helps your child learn and grow while in their care.
What to Do:
Realize that your child is also experiencing a major disruption to their routine. Allow both you and your child time to adapt to the changing situation. Be patient and kind with yourself and your child while you work toward establishing new routines at home together.
How to Work from Home with Kids: Start Early, Stick to It
If you’re struggling to get things done during the day while your kids demand attention and playtime, you’re not alone. In the 2020 State of Remote Work survey, 12 percent of respondents said their biggest struggle as a remote worker was dealing with distractions at home.
Having kids in the home during work hours can be a huge distraction (especially if you’re a hands-on parent who loves spending time with them), so here’s how to get ahead of the game:
- Take note of what time your kids wake up each morning.
- Get an early start by waking up two or three hours before the kids do.
- Spend the first half-hour planning out your day, including work meetings, meal and activity breaks, exercise breaks and anything else important for the day. You could also grab breakfast during this time, take a walk outside or enjoy a short meditation session before you start the day.
- Spend the next two hours on “deep work.” Choose a task that requires a lot of focus, something that’s easier to do while the kids are in bed.
- By the time the kids wake up, you’re ahead of the game and organized to have a happy and productive day.
You don’t have to lose sleep, but if you’re struggling with a task that requires a lot of concentration, consider working on it early in the morning or later in the evening while kids are in bed. Waking up early, planning your day and sticking to it is a great way to ensure you have a better day working from home with kids.
How to Work from Home with Kids: Tag Team with Your Partner
Is your partner working from home with you and your kids?
Having both parents working from home with kids can create an additional layer of chaos, with greater potential for distractions and interruptions, and more difficulty balancing competing needs.
On the other hand, effectively communicating and compromising with your partner can make the situation easier for everyone. Here are three ways to make it happen:
- Designate Two Office Spaces – Sharing a room or office space with your partner is usually just fine, but there are times when someone needs extra peace and quiet – either to take a call, or to just get some focused work done. Try setting up two office spaces: a quiet space for concentration and phone calls, and a more relaxed space where everyone can be together.
- Experiment with Staggered Schedules – Staggering schedules with your partner is a great way to manage childcare and help both parents stay productive at work. A parent with a flexible work schedule can help with kids during the day, work in the evening and sleep in. The other parent can wake up with the kids, work nine to five, and sleep on a normal schedule. By splitting childcare responsibilities this way, each parent can get more uninterrupted work time.
- Take Breaks Together – It’s probably not the best time to go to the park, but scheduling a break for everyone to play in the yard or do a fun activity inside is a great way to take advantage of the whole family being home together.
Working from home with your kids is a great time to model positive relationship behaviors with your partner. When your child sees you and your partner communicating and cooperating effectively, it sets the foundation for them to enjoy healthy relationships throughout their lives.
How to Work from Home with Kids: Utilize Calendars and Reminders
When a situation like COVID-19 comes along and disrupts our regularly scheduled programming, we can easily lose track of our priorities and forget about deadlines or important events as we struggle to cope with change.
Kids need structured days to develop a strong sense of security and self-discipline in the world, but they lack the skills and knowledge to impose structure upon themselves.
Daycare providers understand this, so they structure each day around a series of daily events that kids can anticipate – from the morning circle and snack time to afternoon naps and individual or group playtimes.
To parent like a provider while working from home with kids, it is important to create some structure for your child’s day. Use a calendar to plan activities and mealtimes for the kids throughout the day and set reminders so you don’t lose track of time. If your partner is working from home with you, organize together to provide a stable routine for the kids that also allows both parents to get their work done.
How to Work from Home with Kids: Break Up Your Day
When you’re working from home, it’s important to break up your day just like you would if you were working a normal day at the office.
That means getting up to walk around, eating a proper lunch, stepping outside for some fresh air, refilling your water bottle and taking regular breaks to stay productive. If your job allows you to “make your own hours,” you could choose to work a couple of hours in the morning, a few more in the afternoon and the rest in the evening.
Engaging in your normal self-care routine is also important, even if you’re leaving the house much less than usual. Modeling appropriate self-care for your kids is an important way to make sure they grow up with good habits and a strong sense of self.
Take time for yourself each day to engage in proper self-care and take breaks throughout the workday. Model appropriate self-care behaviors for your kids and help them manage their own self-care routines which may have been impacted by the COVID-19 disruption. Spend lunches or breaks with your kids and enjoy the quality time together.
Plan an exciting activity to do with your child at some point during the day. It could be a fun board game, a card game or anything else they would love to do. Let them know about the plan so they can be excited and help them decide how to keep busy until it’s time for the fun to start. Make sure to start the activity on time and reward your child for waiting patiently.
Why Are We Sharing This?
With child care and education centers closed due to COVID-19, Procare remains committed to providing information and resources to the parents and educators in our community.
We’ve built great relationships with child care providers everywhere and learned everything we can about the great work they do – all while making Procare Software the nation’s number-one selling childcare management software solution.
Now we’re bringing that knowledge to you, along with new tools and resources to help you parent more effectively while working from home with kids during COVID-19.
Learn How to Parent Like a Provider
We’re providing even more resources to help you parent like a provider during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll be sharing parenting advice for both mom and dad, as well as home activity ideas to help the kids have fun and stay sharp until daycares can safely reopen.
Ready for more great tips and advice?