One survey predicts one in four Americans will be remote workers in 2021, and it is likely that many will never go back to the office. This means that many parents will need to work from home with children for the foreseeable future!
If you are working from home for a short period of time, it is tempting to let YouTube be the parent while you muddle through your zoom calls. But if it is your new normal, you will need effective long-term tips for working remotely with your children at home.
Lucky for you, this guide has plenty of them to help you suss out your new working and parenting situation.
- Declutter and Childproof Your Home
First things first, make your home as childproof as possible. Your attention throughout your working day will split and you will not be able to watch your children’s every move. So, ease your worries by getting organized and making your house as safe as possible.
Ensure you lock all outside doors throughout the day and hide all keys. Keep inside doors shut and invest in some door gates as well as stair gates if you have toddlers.
Tidy away any clutter so your children are less likely to trip and fall.
Put any sentimental or breakable objects and any harmful substances like cleaning supplies out of reach. In an ideal world, you would be able to teach your child which things not to touch so you don’t need to hide Grandma’s vase. But this might not be the realistic or safe option if you are trying to work, too.
- Set up a Designated Home Office Space
Next, set up a home office. The dining room table or living room coffee table is not a professional set-up long-term. You will soon develop back problems and lose important papers.
If you have small children under five, create a desk space in the living room or kitchen where you can watch them while working. But if you have children in school and will be working while parenting out of school hours, you should have a separate space where you can shut the door.
This will help your children learn to respect your work boundaries. Plus, you will be able to focus and not listen to their noisy games.
Here are some examples of office equipment and furniture you should have in your home office space:
- Desk with lockable drawers
- Comfortable ergonomic office chair
- Laptop and stand
- Second desktop screen
- Second keyboard
- Second mouse
Some optional extras would be a printer and scanner with lots of spare paper and ink. Anything you need to conduct your business from home. A desk lamp might be a good idea if you need to work before your kids wake up or after they go to sleep.
- Work Flexible Hours and Take Regular Breaks
That leads to another one of the best tips for working remotely with children: flexibility! If you were a 9-5 worker, that is an unrealistic expectation that does not transfer to working from home.
Remember that parenting and working are often both full-time jobs.
You might need to wake up an hour earlier than your children and/or work for an hour after they go to bed. Depending on how reliable your children’s nap times are, schedule any calls during that time.
Take longer, 15-minute breaks once an hour to play with them. If you have very energetic children, let them play outside in your yard or take them to a park during lunch. Buy them some new kids’ activewear so they get excited about the new schedule.
If it is an option for you, consider daycare or a nanny. Hiring help does not need to be an all-or-nothing arrangement. You could hire professional help for a couple of hours twice a week and do all your focused work during those hours.
- Create a Routine and Set Guidelines
It might seem like “flexibility” and “routine” are conflicting tips for working remotely. But you 100% need both!
Set wake-up and bedtimes for your children as if you are going to work and they are going to school or daycare. Ensure they are ready by a certain time and have lunch at the same time, too.
If you have a partner, in an ideal situation you would split parenting tasks between the two of you. For example, if one of you handles family dinner then the other does bathtime. Routine is important for all children but even more so when you are working from home.
It is also essential that you set guidelines and boundaries for your children. Everyone has seen the news reports where children interrupt their parents during expert opinion calls.
It is a very real (and stressful) reality for working parents!
Explain to your children the reasons they can and cannot bother you. This is, of course, never going to work 100% of the time. But at the very least, they need to know that they cannot ask you how many blades of grass there are while you are leading a presentation.
- Stock up on New Activities and Games
It is so tempting to pacify your children with TV and YouTube while you get on with your work. And if you do this now and again, please do not beat yourself up for it.
But most of the time, keep your children occupied with sensory, imaginative, and memory-building games. Lego or Duplo are fantastic toys for children of all ages as well as dolls, blocks, and puzzles. Keep any toys that make noise for playtime after work hours!
If your children are older, invest in tools for creative activities like painting or sculpting. Yes, it might be a large upfront investment and create clutter. But it is so important your children have plenty to occupy themselves with while you are busy working.
Use These Tips for Working Remotely With Children
It is so difficult to provide for your family while looking after them. It can seem like you are not doing one or the other any justice.
But if you follow these tips for working remotely, you will be able to figure out a new way of working and parenting that makes sense for your situation. Manage your expectations and above all remember you are doing your best!
Like this article? Check out our other parenting guides for more tips and advice.