Balancing your work and home life is always difficult…
But during lockdown, it can be even harder. With Education Secretary Gavin Williamson recently confirming that plans for pupils to return to schools in England has been scaled back until September, for many that means continuing to juggle working remotely with the demands of being a parent.
To help you find the right balance, here are some of our top tips on how to manage working from home with your kids:
Be upfront with your boss
Firstly, if you have any childcare-related concerns at all, let your line manager know.
Remote working is all about finding what works best for you. Whether it’s deciding on the right working environment, or figuring out how to keep the kids occupied whilst you crack on with your emails.
Being upfront and honest will mean your boss will have a heads up if any emergency situations arise. Not to mention any special guests that may appear in the background of your latest Zoom call. Most likely they’ll even welcome the little (or not so little) distraction popping up from time-to-time.
Remember: Your manager should know that your family will always be your top priority.
As long as you can manage your workload to the best of your abilities (regardless of your childcare commitments), they’re unlikely to have any complaints.
Mirror the school day
A good parenting hack during lockdown is to try and stick to a school day routine.
Even small adjustments to your schedule, such as taking regular breaks, set snack times, and going for a walk, could make a massive difference to your children’s moods.
And that’s not even factoring in your own emotional wellbeing.
Keeping to a rough schedule will also allow you to book out time in your calendar to fully concentrate on the kids. Let’s face it, we all know that some interruptions can’t be helped. But this way you should hopefully be able to minimise any potential clashes from cutting into your teaching time.
So you can make the ‘new normal’ seem as normal as possible. Whether the schools are open, or not.
Alternating childcare shifts
If you live with other people, now is the chance to make the most of it.
Setting regular childcare ‘shifts’ will help you split the workload of looking after the little ones. So whether it’s a partner, family member or friend, you both get quality time with the kids – whilst also allowing you to dedicate time to your day job.
Some great tips we’ve seen some parents use include:
- Taking a regular morning or night ‘shift’
- Eating lunch together as a family, before swapping over
- Setting up in a different room (whilst your partner takes over childcare)
- Blocking out your calendar for the times you’re ‘on duty’
- Telling the kids when mummy or daddy is ‘at work’, and when they’re not
Chances are, this system will take some time to work out. But, in our experience, it will be more than worth the wait.
Take control (and find what works best for you)
Finally, managing your working day remotely can be stressful enough even without kids.
To get the most out of the situation, always try taking as much control as possible. Whether it comes to booking in meetings, setting realistic deadlines, or anything else.
One great tip to maintain control is to keep all your calls and meetings to a set timeslot (wherever possible). Whether it’s in the morning, in the evening, or in the afternoon.
This will also allow you to manage your workload around your children’s schedule. So if they tend to be harder to settle towards the end of the day, you can clear your calendar and be prepared for any potential meltdowns.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take the opportunity to wind down towards the end of the day, by keeping your simpler tasks for later in the afternoon. And never be afraid to push back if you need to.
You may not be able to be as flexible as you would in the workplace. But a lot of parents are in a similar situation, and will realise that your home life often has to take precedence over your profession. Especially during a pandemic.
So don’t be too hard on yourself, as you try to find the balance.
If you have any suggestions to add to this article, please comment below, or message us on Twitter @reedcouk.
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