Parents are no strangers to juggling the demands of childcare and working life! And while we have big plans to welcome children back at school, this can be a tricky balance especially while Victorians continue to work from home. But with a few strategies in place, it’s possible to stay on top of your workload while also being able to have some fun with your kids! In this C&G blog, we share suggestions for balancing caring for your family while sticking to your remote work schedule.
Set expectations and communicate
From the outset it is important to set expectations. Have an open honest conversation with your manager about any changes you might need to make to your workload, deadlines and commitments as you work from home. Most employers will be understanding of the difficulty of the situation, and should be supportive of your need to adjust your schedule or goals as a result.
It is also important to set expectations with your children. If they are old enough to understand, communicate what your work schedule and requirements are like. For example, if there are certain days or times that you have recurring virtual meetings, let them know, so you won’t be interrupted.
Establish a schedule
Block off time as needed for caregiving or homeschooling activities, knowing that not all planned time works out with the unpredictability of little ones. If the option is available, look for opportunities to split time with another caregiver in your household, and build your schedule around this.
It can be helpful for both you and your kids to come up with a basic (and flexible) schedule, perhaps one that mimics the regular work and school day to maintain consistency. This allows you to align their school time with your working hours, to help maximise productivity and reduce interruptions.
Set up fun activities
Within your schedule, set up some fun activities for your kids! If they enjoy arts and crafts, perhaps you set up a dedicated “art zone” for them to get creative with these 15 craft projects. If they’re an avid bookworm, you can build a comfy “reading corner” where they can enjoy their favourite books.
This is also a nice time for you to release your own inner child and spend some quality time with your kids while at home! You can introduce some music into your daily routine, either by listening to your children’s favourite music and creating a dance routine with them, or maybe you can even teach them an instrument!
Set boundaries with work and your kids
We’ve all seen photos of the stressed employee with a child on their lap while in the middle of a Zoom meeting. The problem with this is, when you’re dividing your attention between work and family life, you’re unable to be your best self for your children or your employer. For this reason, it’s important to set clear boundaries.
Communicate your hours of availability to your manager and colleagues, including when you’ll be shutting down for the day, when you’re taking time off and when you need to be away from your computer throughout the week. For your kids, remind them of your schedule, explaining to them when you will be present and when you will be unavailable or “at work”. It will also be important to establish a physical boundary, such as your home office or bedroom, which your kids know is your “work zone”.
Be kind to yourself and take ‘you time’
These are challenging times as it is, let alone needing to juggle parenthood with working from home, and you’re likely feeling increased amounts of pressure and stress from both areas of your life.
To ensure you don’t become completely overwhelmed, it is important to be kind to yourself. Don’t expect perfection and understand that you are doing your best. Make sure you dedicate some time to yourself each day to have some time just for you. You might go for a walk on your lunch break, do an at-home workout before you start your working day, or read a book in the evening. Whatever you choose, make sure you dedicate time just for yourself.