Tips for Parents and Employers Wondering How to Manage Working from Home with Kids
You’ve dreamt about working from home for years. But now that you’ve been given the opportunity to wear your pjs to the virtual office for a bit, you’re starting to realize that working from home isn’t exactly an all-day coffee break. This may especially be true if you’re working from home with a kid or four in tow.
In March of 2020, nearly 500 schools closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving many parents responsible for their children’s education. The new school year has found many schools still closed, offering remote learning options instead.
If you’re at your wits’ end, stay tuned as we provide practical tips on how to manage working from home with kids. And if you’re a manager with employees struggling due to their darling offspring, we’ve included some practical tips for you as well.
Tips on How to Manage Working from Home with Kids for Parents
Set responsible expectations
Working from home with kids will never be the same as working from the office, no matter how many tips and tricks you throw at the situation. So rather than trying to meet the same productivity levels, come up with a reasonable list of accomplishments you can tackle each day.
Keep in mind that to-do lists won’t look the same for every situation. Are you working from home with twin infants or an independent middle schooler? Consider the unique needs of your children based on their age and personalities to come up with a reasonable list of daily goals to strive for.
Practice makes perfect
American families are navigating working from home along with remote learning for the first time. So it’s no surprise that coming up with a playbook may take some practice.
For example, you may want to help your children recognize scenarios where it’s inappropriate to interrupt you, such as:
- On the phone
- Attending a virtual meeting
Working with your office door closed
Run some practice drills that allow your children to see each scenario in action and respond appropriately.
Offer a reward
Bribery in moderation never hurt anyone. If your kids are younger, set small goals, like playing quietly for 30 minutes while you respond to emails. If they meet the goal, reward them with lunch at the park or some extra one-on-one time with you.
For older kids, set the bar higher. When they meet an entire week of letting you work uninterrupted while completing their own work on time, consider a family night out to let everyone decompress. You may want to turn to monetary rewards but there are plenty of other options that your kids will love working towards.
Set visible boundaries
It can be difficult for your children to know when you’re off-limits if your office is also a common space in the house, like the living room. Even if it’s a small corner in a bedroom, set up a workspace that physically shows you’re unavailable.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a full office at home, get in the habit of only working at your desk. Treat your commute, no matter how short, the same as driving to the office across town.
Switch up your schedule
If your children are younger or require assistance throughout the day, you may need to temporarily switch up your schedule. Whether it’s waking up earlier and getting in a couple hours before breakfast or staying up and working the graveyard shift, don’t be afraid to get a bit creative to make the most of your available time. Avoid burnout by napping with your kids (if they still nap) or reaching out to a family member or friend for help.
Tips on How to Manage Working from Home with Kids for Managers
As a manager, how can you support employees working from home with kids? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when helping employees remain productive without burning out.
- Show empathy. Your employees may be stressed to the max. Let them know you understand they’re in a difficult situation and you’re here to help them get through it.
- Let go of traditional routines. Working 9-5 isn’t always an option when working from home with kids. If your employees are working through their to-do lists and still providing results, let traditional schedules and processes take a back seat for now (read our blog for tips on how to assess productivity from remote workers).
- Define communication expectations. This will help remotely working parents know what’s expected of them as far as check-ins and what they can expect from management. Together, decide on a main communication method and frequency.
Together, Everyone Can Get the Job Done
Working remotely certainly has both benefits and hurdles. But when kids are added to the mix, it can make even the best employees and their employers nervous.
With a few adjustments and a willingness to be flexible, working from home with kids can be a success. Take every setback as an opportunity to adjust and learn. Eventually, knowing how to manage working from home with kids can become second nature for parents and employers alike.