Are you currently one of the 4.9 million modern working mums juggling remote working with kids underfoot now schools have closed nationwide? In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of companies have sent their employees home to work, while schools and nurseries have closed nationwide. For many parents, this means working from home while their children are also present. Whether you’ve worked from home for years or are completely new to remote working, these circumstances are incredibly challenging. In light of this, to help working parents adjust to these new and unusual conditions, we have dedicated our Tuesday ‘Top Tips’ to managing working from home with kids underfoot.
#1 – PLAN ACTIVITIES THAT DO NOT REQUIRE SUPERVISION – Obviously different activities apply to different age groups, so depending on what age your children are, they will require a different kind of attention. While babies will give you a breather during nap times, you can also rely on swings and bouncy chairs or putting on some calming music to give yourself quality work time. For toddlers and primary school age children, who’s attention spans still need occupying frequently, create activity boxes containing games and puzzles that require minimal adult supervision and tasks for them to complete. You could also keep them busy with trustworthy and educational apps, maybe even their favourite programmes.
#2 – BE UPFRONT ABOUT EXPECTATIONS – It’s important to proactively communicate with your employer and to be honest with them regarding your situation and your children being at home. This way they will be aware that you cannot guarantee your work or work calls will be interruption-free and on demand. You should also explain to your children what working from home requires. While it may seem like a regular weekend or a holiday to them because you are all at home, getting into a weekday routine will help both you and especially your children understand the requirements better and adapt to these unusual circumstances.
#3 – PRIORITISE YOUR SCHEDULE – Try to schedule your most engaging/reliable activities for your kids to be on their own during the time you need to be most productive. Planning, planning, planning and organisation is the key to keeping a routine and making the most out of your day. Your children (if of the school age) will be used to a routine themselves, so keeping a continuous weekly/daily routine will help with their behaviour and your workload to coincide smoothly. You could inform them of your schedule for the day and when you will be taking breaks etc. Physically create a timetable for the week so they have something they can visually look at and prepare themselves for what the day entails.
#4 – SPLIT THE WORK – If you have a partner or a parent who can help, you may consider taking shifts. For instance, one person watches the kids in the morning while the other works, and vice versa in the afternoon. This can better guarantee at least some hours where your focus is purely on your work and you are at peace of mind your children are being supervised and your attention will not flit between different goings on.
#5 – VIRTUAL BABYSITTER – During this time of isolation/social distancing, many babysitters/ teachers are finding innovative ways to still keep things as normal as possible for working parents. They are planning on teaching lessons through video call/keeping your children entertained while you work. Reach out to them and find out what they are doing to help working parents out. You could also reach out to friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents who may have some time on their hands whilst isolating too. These individuals are amazing resources, you can use them to arrange virtual playdates for your kids. They can talk, read, play games, sing, do dances and much more, all over video call. This way your kids are still social distancing but able to communicate with other family members etc too.
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