Working parents: how to work from home if you have children
With schools closed, working from home with children around is a reality for many parents in these unprecedented times.
What can working parents do to ensure their children are occupied and happy while still being able to support their business and colleagues? Gaelle Blake, Director at recruiting experts, Hays, who is a mother of three, shares her tips for working at home with kids.
Write a family schedule
Gaelle advises creating a family schedule early on. “Ideally your schedule will outline your full day from when you wake up to going to bed”, she says. “Include your set office hours, mealtimes and breaks. Try to line up your work plan with your children’s typical routines – for example, parents of young ones may find it easier to schedule calls during naptime or when older children are doing schoolwork.”
“If there are multiple working adults in the household, you might also want to allocate who will ‘own’ each chunk of time, thereby helping ensure everyone is able to have some distraction free work time”, she adds.
Agree your working hours
“Dependent on the age of your children, you may need to alter your hours slightly”, Gaelle says. “Most leaders will want as much business continuity as possible whilst also setting an understanding tone, so should be accommodating of all reasonable requests.”
Stick to your routine
“Once your schedule is in place, try not to deviate from it”, Gaelle advises. “You want your children to adjust to the circumstances quickly, and establishing a routine is vital to achieving this, as well as assuring their general wellbeing.”
“It will also be a good way to make them understand that there are set times where – if possible – they should try not to disturb any working adults.”
Keep your children entertained
“It can be helpful to preplan games and activities for the week ahead to ensure your children aren’t bored,” recommends Gaelle. “Consider occupying them with things like art projects, learning and research tasks, gardening or exercise.”
“Give older kids some extra responsibilities, such as looking after their younger siblings or maybe ‘owning’ certain mealtimes. Of course, it’s important to reward them for this behaviour, so consider pushing their usual bedtime back, increasing their pocket money or whatever other perks you see fit.”
Set your work zone
“For many parents the thought of creating an ‘adult only’ zone in your home may be wishful thinking. However, if your kids are a bit older, try to carve out a space to work in that is free from children’s paraphernalia. This is so you can keep your work and parenting roles separate, giving each your full concentration for a set amount of time without feeling like you aren’t doing either well.”
Expect the unexpected
As a final step, Gaelle reminds parents not to worry when things don’t go to plan. “There is no point being too stressed about your child suddenly interrupting a conference call or needing to rearrange a pre-planned video-meeting at short notice because one of your toddlers has hurt themselves. These things happen, and under the circumstances, most of your colleagues, or customers should be understanding.”
“Finally, try to enjoy this time together. These are stressful times for many people. However, it is important to try to notice the silver lining wherever you may find it. Chances are, your kids will be pretty excited to be spending so much time with you!”
For more information contact:
Helen Flannery, PR Manager, Hays
T: +44 (0) 203 0400 282
M: +44 (0)75 5579 70401
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