How to Successfully Work From Home While Parenting

by | May 16, 2022 | Business, Content Marketing, remote work, writing

Working from home often offers greater flexibility and many other benefits, but it comes with its fair share of challenges as well. For anyone who has children, trying to find the right balance between working from home and still being able to parent is often one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. It can be hard sometimes to fit in all of your work duties regardless but add to that trying to manage energetic kids, and many parents find themselves feeling burned out. Raising a child is its own full-time job, so is it even possible to work full-time from home, too? It may sound like a lot to manage, but it is possible, and there are plenty of tips that can help make it work.

The Trend Toward Working From Home

Over the last couple of years, a majority of Americans were able to experience what it’s like to work from home, for better or worse. However, the working-from-home trend is nothing new and had been growing for years, even before the pandemic hit. And as many companies are returning to the office, a growing number of workers would still prefer to remain at home or have more flexible options. It’s clear that even with the struggles, there is value in being able to work from home.

Challenges of Parenting With Remote Work

Your job keeps you busy enough — and many parents wonder how it’s possible to get everything done while there are kids around. These are some of the most common struggles noted by parents who work from home:

  • Time. One of the biggest challenges faced by work-from-home parents is that they are left feeling like there are simply not enough hours in the day to get all of their work tasks done, maintain a household, and entertain the kids, let alone have time for themselves.
  • Frequent interruptions. Having kids around means that your workflow will be interrupted more frequently to attend to their needs. It can be a challenge to maintain focus and get things done in the same amount of time as you would at the office.
  • Lack of work environment. Working from home means you can work from the couch, the dining table, and even from bed! But the downside to this is that you are sharing these spaces with your family, and that comes with lack of privacy and plenty of distractions. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated home office, but many parents do not have this luxury.

How to Parent and Work From Home

So, how can you overcome these challenges and be successful in both your work life and parenting? It absolutely is possible to find the balance, especially with these tips and tricks up your sleeve:

Find What Works for You

Every family is different, and every job will have its own set of unique requirements and routines. What’s most important is finding what works for you and your situation. You’ll likely hear advice to get on a schedule and keep strictly to a routine. This works great for some families, but not all. Others do much better with more flexibility in their day. Try out both methods and see what is the least stressful for you and your kids.

Of course, this may depend on the daily schedule of your job — if your daily routine at work is heavily scheduled and regimented, it may make sense to schedule the kids’ day accordingly. On the flip side, a freelancer or someone with a more flexible work schedule may find that more flexibility in family duties and routines works best.

Set Your Priorities

Know what your most important tasks are for work and try to get those done first, in case other things crop up in your day. Block out specific times, if you can, for tasks that take more focus. If you have lower-stakes activities like administrative tasks or emails to send, perhaps you can multitask these while overseeing a craft or schoolwork project.

Similarly, know what your family priorities are and be sure to include time for them. It could be making sure the family gets outside every day or eats dinner together. During these priority times, put away the computer and phone and be present with your family.

Embrace Unique Schedules

Some parents find that they can power through important work tasks in the early morning hours before the kids wake up. This is a great tip if you’re naturally an early bird. Personally, I often work best late at night after my little one goes to bed. The idea here is to find what works for you. Embrace nap times (if your kids are still in that stage) or any other downtimes where quiet and focus come more naturally for you and your family routine. You may even be able to squeeze in work during older kids’ extracurriculars. Take a phone call or send some emails while the kids are busy with dance, soccer, piano lessons, or whatever they are into.

Plan Out Snacks and Activities for the Kids

Most kids are busy and always looking for something to do — or yet another snack. A little bit of planning ahead can help you out as a working parent in this department. Have some kid-safe cups on a reachable shelf and teach your kids to get a glass of water for themselves. You can also have a dedicated shelf or drawer for healthy snacks that the kids can help themselves to. This can help reduce interruptions during the day.

In addition to the snacks, you can set up activities for the kids to do while you are busy. Try any of these ideas:

  • Activity stations. Keep the kids busy with regularly stocked craft and activity areas of the house. Set out Legos, building toys, stem toys, and craft supplies like crayons, paint, and play dough. Choose age-appropriate supplies that will keep the kids busy without you worrying about hazards or messes.
  • Online classes. Online opportunities abound, both paid and free, for just about any topic your kids might be interested in. Find a one-time event or an ongoing class to keep the kids entertained and learning.
  • Make a list. Brainstorm, as a family, different activities the kids can do by themselves. Post the idea list in a visible location. If the kids are not reading yet, make a chart with pictures of games and activities they will recognize and be inspired by.
  • Schoolwork. If your kids are school-aged, they may have their own tasks to complete during the day. Make sure they are set up with everything they need and can do at least some of their work without your help.

If you know you have an important call or meeting, check in to make sure the kids have everything they need before you start — water, snacks, and something to do. And make sure diapers are checked, and older kids have used the bathroom.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Sometimes, it can be a little too much to handle, so if you have other people in your life that can help you out, let them! You could hire a nanny or mother’s helper to come in, even on a part-time basis. Or perhaps a close friend or family member would be willing to help out occasionally. Even from afar, a video chat with Grandma or Grandpa can keep kids entertained while you’re busy.

Have Some Boundaries

When you work from home, the boundaries between your job and your home life can easily get blurred. It’s important to draw some lines to maintain a healthier balance. First, set some boundaries with your kids. Have a clear symbol, such as a closed door or a sign that means you are not to be interrupted when the signal is present. Second, have some boundaries with work too. This can mean having certain hours where you are unavailable to take work calls or having a separate area in your home for working. Allow yourself to have time at home that is off-limits to work and resist the temptation to check work emails at all hours of the day and night.

Adjust Expectations

Know that working from home is a completely different experience from office work. You may have very different routines, schedules, and levels of productivity when you work from home, so adjust your expectations accordingly and go easy on yourself. Go easy on your kids, too, especially if this is a new routine for everyone. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different schedules or home office setups. You’ll find what works best for you. Relax — you got this!

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Sara Beth Olson