Practical advices

Parenting while working from home

Working from home sometimes becomes the only alternative you have – even for those who used to say that they simply have their rituals in the morning which prepare them for the work and put into the role of a businessperson, such as having a shower, drinking coffee, choosing clothes, women wearing high heels. All of that creates the feeling of being in a business, intensive role.

What happens when it all goes away overnight?

From a full-time job out of the house to new working hours in which you combine parenting, home and business obligations, meals trying to make it work well. Then we spice it a bit with TV classes of your schoolchildren and testing new conference-call tools while your children ask you what classes they have today, where their books and art brushes are.

In the beginning, the idea of working from home seems exciting and perfect. Finally, you don’t have to lose so much time commuting, you’ll spend more time with your children, you’ll have 24 hours to get well organized. Sooner rather than later, you realize that these thoughts were pure romance.

Clear lines of differences between your job and your chores are becoming vague and challenging to set apart. As if you suddenly don’t have just one – because of the children – but a double sense of guilt, only this time it is work-related too.

Children got accustomed to knowing that you belong to them when you are at home, and now that has changed, and the time you used to play together must wait for a while. One option to help them realize is to tell them that mom or dad are at work in their office when they go into their working room and that they will be busy for some time. Repeat that as many times as necessary. Together, you can make flags that tell about your free/busy time which are placed on the door of the room where you work. When the flag is green, it means that you are available, and as long as there is a red flag on the door, it means that you are busy and that there is only limited access to you.

Also, going to work in pyjamas can cause considerable mental collapse, because with a cup of coffee in your hands and pyjamas outfit it can be quite tempting to motivate your brain to work. Also, add to that situation children who are walking from room to room, especially if they are still not at the age when they can be independent and still need help during meals. It is quite sure that you will have an inevitable catastrophe in productivity.

However, we are here to point to some facts that will help you. A good morning routine is one of them. Morning routines help business leaders around the world become productive and successful. Wake up every day at the same time, including weekends (I’m sorry, really). It can be quite challenging if you have young children who stay awake as long as you do or have their own biorhythm. A morning routine brings a consistency that feels good for our brain because then it knows what to expect. Take a shower, if you do it in the morning. Do your personal hygiene, get a little makeup, if you normally do. Even put your shoes on (or at least slippers) and go to the room/office to work.

Your brain of a parent is continuously juggling with 30 things that are happening at the same time – most things we forget before we remember them. Prepare your corner for work from home. And protect it, as much as it is in your capacity. Your space should be a closed type with a locked door, even a part of the bedroom that will be adapted for work purposes sounds entirely adequate. In this way, you maintain your work integrity and protect online conversations. No matter how cute that situation could seem to all participants, avoid having your child fly in like popcorn from a hot saucer during a very important conversation. Let’s remember only the BBC news reporter from South Korea a few years ago who entertained us very much when two children walked in on him nonchalantly and infinitely cute during live streaming.

Also, set some basic rules of how people/children from your home can contact you in the working room. Ask your partner or a person who cares about your children to communicate with you through messages if it is necessary to ask you anything that cannot wait so as not to set an example and permission to children to be able to barge in whenever they think it is important, because, you will agree, children always think that they have something important to ask you.

Make “to do” list the previous day for the next one. This will make the day more productive, and you will be more focused on activities and better prepared.

Every home is different. Some of you have school-age children who do not need much attention and know when it’s not a good time to reach out for you and when you are in your “office” and working. If you are the lucky one, then it will not take a lot of efforts to invest in organizing who will take care of them while you are working. Still, it will merely be more time-consuming for the monitoring and supervision of performed school activities and operational activities on sending homework to teachers’ addresses and submitting feedback. Sometimes not even that, because they will do everything themselves. Time can be spent on checking completed tasks, which can be “Sherlock’s” work because children, as well as you, can be extremely confused by home-schooling and obligations that need to be taken care of in one day, so they could forget to do a lot of things.

But what if your kids are little and require special and permanent attention? In that case, work from home is very difficult. In these situations, it is necessary to make a deal with your partner who is working when. If a partner is working from home, share the work in shifts and adhere to it. If a partner goes to work, upon his return, you’ll go to your “office” and get down to work. If it is necessary to work at the same time, there is an inevitable issue of additional assistance in the house, such as a nanny or grandparents who are still capable of helping you out. It is essential to admit that if you try to focus 100% on the job and 100% on the children simultaneously, you will burn out twice as fast. Both your work and quality time you spend with your children are very much to suffer when you try to perform both activities simultaneously.

Although you probably won’t be able to separate the two things perfectly, setting certain boundaries will be the key to long-term work from home. When you’re not sure, talk. And talk again. A part of remote work success comes from remembering that too many conversations are actually the exact amount of communication. The context is also extremely important. It is better to inform your team at work that events at home prevent you from being as productive as usual than to pretend to have everything under control, while your result or quality of work suffers.

Our children are certainly not going to remember the sound of the car as we do with our parents returning from work every day around 03.30 p.m., nor will they wait for their mom at the front door to come home from work.

But their childhood will unveil equally well under the same roof with us. Someone will be in the bathroom while we are having an important conference call spilling all the soap all over themselves in an attempt to wash their hands, someone will lose a tooth for the first time and will instantly want to share that news with us, while we, in our improvised office, strive to maintain the integrity of an employed and engaged person to whom it is truly important to carry out work-related tasks properly.

The solution is to be open and share your current life circumstances with your colleagues and superiors.

In addition to seeing when you’re busy, they will see when you’re super productive, when you’re available for meetings, and your colleagues will understand that your workweek is a very complex, yet equally productive category.

Being a parent who works from home is not as simple as when you work in an office without children, but is much rewarding too.

At any time on the way from your bathroom to your workroom or kitchen, you can stop every day and enjoy the unique moments of your children growing up with you not missing it this time. Not even during the working week from nine to five.