Working from home used to be a luxury for many people, but nowadays, it’s practically the norm. It comes with a myriad of benefits, including less traffic stress and more money savings. However, it also has its own set of drawbacks and challenges—especially for working parents.
If you are currently balancing work responsibilities with family life, you’re not alone. A large number of parents today are juggling work and caring for their families sometimes homeschooling as well. While the situation can be tricky to navigate, there are a few things that could help.
Here are five tips for parents working from home.
1: Have a Designated Space for Work
It’s easy to get distracted at home, especially if you don’t have a designated work area. Distractions can significantly affect your productivity so creating distance between you and things that distract you can help you improve your performance at work.
Understandably you’d want to be there for your children 24/7; however, it’s important to keep boundaries to ensure the quality of both your work responsibilities and your parental care. Set up a routine or a rhythm that is flexible but also allows you to do the best you can in both arenas.
2: Create a Routine
It’s one thing to have a schedule — but it’s an entirely different thing when you have a routine. Schedules are undeniably important because they tell you what you need to do and when. However, schedules can feel overwhelming and frustrating, especially when you’re working from home where there are so many potential distractions.
Instead of focusing on sticking to a strict schedule, try developing a routine or rhythm.
Routines are great because they give you a sense of control over your day. It doesn’t anchor you to specific schedules or dates. Whatever happens during the day — which could be anything, especially if you’re a parent — your routine can look relatively the same. It’s a great way to reduce feelings of worry and anxiety.
3: Set Aside Time for Family Bonding
Separating work time from family time can be difficult while working from home. Regardless of how busy you are, setting aside time for being present with your family is essential. Studies show that families who participate in the same everyday activities together form stronger emotional bonds than those that don’t. They’re also more likely to respond and adapt better to changing societal conditions as a family.
Most people work from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; the same may apply to people working from home. So, as soon as the clock strikes quitting time, shut down the computer. A few great ways to spend time with your family are cooking dinner or playing a board game before bed together. You could also take an evening walk around the block and talk about how everyone’s day has been.
4: Don’t Neglect Your Needs
It’s easy to put your own needs aside and focus on your children’s needs more. However, that isn’t the most effective parenting strategy. You must acknowledge that you are a person with needs and wants too. Neglecting them for too long can cause you to feel anxious or even resentful — which inevitably leads to feelings of guilt in the end.
Take some time off work and parenting duties. Take a trip to the spa and pamper yourself with natural skincare. Join a supportive mama community. Get reacquainted with hobbies and curiosities. Allow yourself some space to grow as an individual. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel with meeting your needs.
5: Be Flexible
One of the best things about working from home is that you have more flexibility. Use this flexibility to be more lenient with your schedule. For example, if your child asks you to help them with a project and you have a few minutes to spare, try to assist your child with whatever they need. This makes your child feel supported and secure.
You can also be more flexible in terms of giving yourself breaks. If your eyes start to feel sore from facing the computer screen all day, take a minute to close them up to prevent eye strain after long hours of work. Set a timer to stand up and move your body every 20 minutes. There’s no reason your health needs to suffer because you have a deadline.
The Bottom Line
Juggling work and parenting can be stressful and, at times, overwhelming. However, with the right strategies and techniques in place, you may be able to handle the situation with greater ease. The tips offered above are intended to provide a few simple ways you can balance your professional and personal obligations. Good luck, brave parent!
Katie Pierce is a teacher-slash-writer who loves telling stories to an audience, whether it’s bored adults in front of a computer screen or a bunch of hyperactive 4-year-olds. Writing keeps her sane (most of the time) and allows her to enjoy some quiet time and her way to pamper herself in the evening before she walks into a room of screaming kids (all of whom she loves dearly) the next morning.