You’ve got a house full, the youngest is crying, your toddler is bored and you and your partner have a heap of work to get on with.
Working from home can be a real challenge, especially with coronavirus forcing the whole family to stay at home for the time being.
If you can’t get a babysitter and if grandparents are worried about their own health and won’t take over, there are ways to make working from home with children work for you and your family.
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Have a schedule
If you live with your partner who can also be at home, you are in an easier position to split your time fairly between working and looking after your children.
In the current coronavirus crisis, employers are aware that childcare isn’t going to be an option and that they might have to be a little more flexible when it comes to their employee’s who have children.
It might be a good idea for one of you to start working at 6am until 2pm and one to start working 11am until 7pm (as long as it is okay with your employer) with a break spent together for lunch. That way, your kids will only have to entertain themselves for a few hours in the day. You can also schedule meetings and phone calls into the time when you know you won’t be disturbed by your new little colleagues.
During this time, you can set bigger kids up with school tasks, sit them down with a film, get them to complete chores, have nap time, play-time and even arts and crafts if you’re feeling brave.
Making it work on your own
If you are on your own, try to take as many breaks throughout the day as you can to make sure your children are okay and give them your undivided attention even, if it’s just five minutes here and five minutes there. Taking some time to make sure your little ones have something to keep themselves occupied will make it easier for you to focus your mind on work when you are at your desk.
Get up earlier
It sounds obvious but the earlier you wake up before your babies the more undisturbed work time you can get in. It’s a good idea to use these undisturbed hours for those tasks that take a little more brain power and leave the easier tasks for the time when you are likely to be more distracted by your children.
Involve your children
If you have a desk space where you are working and your toddlers just won’t settle, try to involve them with your work. Set up their own workstations near you and set some simple tasks for them to complete while you’re working.
There’s no guaranteeing how long this will keep them occupied for, but pretending they’re one of your colleagues in the office will certainly keep them entertained long enough for you to catch up with emails!
Remember, these are strange and testing times for everyone so give yourself a break if everything seems a little overwhelming. If you don’t finish all the work you planned to, that’s okay.
The most important thing is that you and your family remain healthy and happy throughout this period of uncertainty and things will get better.
Our expert says: Working from home with children is challenging as they want your attention
We spoke to Angela J Spencer, author of Babyopathy who says:
- "If your children are old enough to understand your schedule, that sometimes you will be working and that they have to entertain themselves, then that’s great. If not, you may have to schedule taking turns with your partner to work or make the most of nap times!"
- "Make sure you schedule some times to do things together. This is a great opportunity to teach them gardening, cooking, painting and other crafts - you could send some masterpieces to brighten an elderly neighbour’s home for example!"
- "It is important to keep a routine for the children or they may find it difficult to focus. Although it’s easy to rely on the TV, ideally this should only be for a maximum of two hours across the whole day so maybe save it for when you need to make important phone calls!"
- "Making sure the children get enough exercise - fresh air will help to keep their sleep patterns from being disrupted and eating fresh fruit and vegetables where possible helps to boost their immune system too."
- "It’s a great opportunity for the whole family to take up mindfulness or meditation as relationships are going to be tested and being able to remain calm is going to be a welcome string to every parents bow!”
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