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Strategies to Survive Working from Home with Children

Working from home has been one of the many new hurdles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic this year. Remote work may feel isolating, and some telecommuters may find themselves going stir-crazy, having their home and work environment under the same roof. Adapting to a remote work schedule can be challenging, but working parents face greater difficulty, balancing work with child care.

The coronavirus pandemic has tested working parents' adaptability and time management skills. With so many children taking classes virtually, having an altered school schedule, or even facing school closures, parents now have an added responsibility of taking care of their kids throughout the day. Tack that onto meeting the demands and expectations from their employers, and it's no surprise working parents may feel stretched thin. Read on to learn about our strategies to survive working from home with kids during the holiday season.

Stick to a Schedule

Sticking to a schedule will help keep you and your children stay on task while you work from home. Every working parent's schedule is different, but find what works best for you and your family.

Adhere to a normal wake up time. Alleviating the work and school commute gives you extra hours at the beginning and end of your workday. Although it may be tempting to use that time to sleep in, sticking to a regular routine allows you to prepare, creating a smoother day with fewer distractions.

Get your kids up and ready, just like you would for a normal school day. Having them dressed and out of their pajamas promotes a feeling of normalcy and will help them transition back to in-person learning when the time comes.

The same goes for you. It's easy to feel laid back while working from the comfort of your own home, but getting dressed, even in casual attire, helps break up the monotony and signals a transition into a mental state that's ready to tackle work.

Even if you have flexibility with your schedule, keep your breaks, especially those around meals, consistent each day. When you take breaks, step away from your work completely. Use this time to unwind and reset. This is a good opportunity to take care of your children's needs or attend to other personal to-dos.  

A routine that works for your coworker may not work for you and your family, so address your situation and see what works best. It may require trial and error. If your work hours are flexible, you may find that working early in the morning and a few hours at night when the kids are asleep is a good plan. Regardless of the schedule you choose, sticking to it will help you stay on track.

Split Schedule

If there's another adult at home, consider working together to tag-team each day. This works especially well if schedules are different. One person can take the morning shift, getting kids up and ready, and the other can handle afternoon tasks like homework and dinner.

Prepare in Advance

Before you begin the workday, make sure your kids have everything they need to be productive and entertained to avoid interruptions later on. If your child is attending virtual school, consider having them set up their workspace and computer ahead of time. Create a list of things they're likely to need throughout the day for their coursework. This may include a computer, charger, headphones, writing utensils, notepad, and printed assignments.

As we inch closer to the end of the year, students will have a winter break, which means they'll have extra free time. Even though school is out of session, consider keeping yourself and your children on a standard schedule. This will allow you to stay focused on your work. Get their tv shows and books ready, and anything else they may need to enjoy their time off.

You never know when the hunger pangs will kick in, so prepare snacks in advance. For younger children and babies, prepare bottles and baby food ahead of time, like the night before or first thing in the morning. Spending extra time outside of working hours to get organized will save you time in the long run.

Get yourself prepped too. Are you working out first thing in the morning? Have your workout clothes ready. Rather than spending unnecessary time searching for your gear at the crack of dawn, have it all laid out the night before. Making your lunches in advance is also a great way to save time during the workday and can aid in healthier food choices.


Create a Designated Work Zone

Working from home can make it easy to set up shop on the couch, but consider creating a designated work area. Set up your home office in a spot that's free from distractions so you can stay focused. For example, don't set up your workstation in front of the living room tv if you'll be tempted to turn it on, or in the line of sight of dirty dishes if you'll feel the need to clean up. Be strategic with your workstation.

Working in a designated area also helps signal to your children when you're busy and working. Explain that your work zone is a quiet area, and when you're in it, they need to be on their best behavior.

Create a sign to put up in your work area that indicates to your family when you're on a call or video conference. Explain to younger children that this means no distractions, and if they need anything, you'll be able to help once the session is complete.   

Capitalize on Quiet Time

Doing your job plus playing caregiver and at-home teacher may feel near impossible, let alone having time for self-care. Doing things for yourself during this time of year is especially important, as holiday stress is common.

Try to capitalize on quiet moments. This may mean waking up before others or taking advantage of naptime. During this time, take care of tasks that need your attention or squeeze in a workout or meditation session while the rest of your home is quiet.

Communicate With Your Boss

Working parents across all industries are facing similar challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Your boss may even be in a similar predicament. It's best to communicate openly and clearly with your team and make them aware of your situation. See how they are willing to work with you; you may be pleasantly surprised.

This year has introduced new challenges, forcing working parents to kick their adaptability skills into high gear. The added stress that comes with the holidays may give rise to even more challenges for working parents this upcoming season. Follow our tips to balance working from home with child care, especially during this holiday season, and be sure to give yourself extra grace during this time. We wish you and your family healthy and happy holidays.


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