Telecommuting, Zoom, WebEx Teams – the new norm for working parents. If you share your home with small children, it can create a whole new level of challenges, as far as productivity and functional parenting.
Most people thrive in an environment that has structure, expectations, input, and feedback. The same goes for children. The first thing to do is to layout your expectations regarding how they should behave during your working hours. Likewise, it’s important to validate them and remember that they also have expectations regarding having access to you while you are working from home. This might include quiet times during a phone call or actual zoning of certain rooms during the day. Communication is key, so it’s a good idea to not only have a verbal conversation but also post easily understood signs in specific areas. Setting boundaries and being consistent are key factors in how successfully you can merge these two lifestyles. Ask your children to restate the expectations and listen to them carefully. Ensuring that everyone is clear will increase success.
Speaking of structure, it is very important that you prioritize your schedule and adhere to it whenever possible. Making a “lesson plan” for the day and reviewing it with your children (and partner) the night before increases productivity. Using kindness and positive reinforcement is key. For every negative interaction, it takes three positive to regain feelings of worth. Focus on the positive! Remember we have to be the role model, even when we want to pull our hair out, we have to model deep breathing, walking away for a time out, and lots of exercise for mental stability.
If at all possible, try to use any available resources for childcare, both for your sake and your child. If you are fortunate enough to have family nearby, definitely ask for help. Even if you only have the option for a few hours of babysitting while you work, it is still an opportunity to give you a much-needed break from juggling home and work-life balance.
Depending on their age, you can also plan limited, short-term activities that do not require your constant supervision. Some examples include bouncy chairs, watching Baby Einstein videos, or allowing educational games and apps. The amazon features have great free resources for audiobooks!
Finally – rest! It is also a proven fact that the human brain functions better when it gives itself time to reset. Research studies have shown that we are most productive when we work for 52 minutes, followed by a 17-minute break. There are also many reasons why adults need time to play, regardless of their age. Whether it be yoga, meditation, praying, or just taking a moment to totally be electronic free, model that behavior for your children. If you are a single parent, it may feel that you cannot indulge in this luxury. It is not a luxury, it is a requirement for your wellbeing and sanity.