The demands of achieving a perfect balance between work, family, and personal life are being tested like never before. With the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent social distancing to help slow the spread of the virus, many people now have to work from home and have found the transition challenging.
At home, you face countless potential distractions: the TV, your comfortable bed, the fridge, the discomfort of your kitchen table work set up. If you have kids, you also have to balance parenting and homeschooling. Fortunately, top10.com/from-home offers comprehensive guides to help you tackle each day of social distancing and shelter-in-place policies.
Even if you’re an old pro at working remotely, doing it alongside your spouse or kids brings a whole new set of challenges. If you’re struggling to strike an ideal balance between work and family, here are a few practical tips to help you manage your time and stay productive.
Create a Separate Work Space
The first step to a successful work-from-home transition is keeping your work in a separate room. This will allow for a physical and psychological division between your work and personal life. It also makes it easier for you to leave work “at work” when you need to focus on your family.
If you’re not the primary caregiver and someone else is looking after the kids, shut the door if possible. Retreat to your isolated room, set up your remote office, and get some quality work done.
Set a Schedule and Stick to It
One of the hardest things about working from home with children is figuring out a schedule that works. Especially when you have to homeschool or make time for other caregiving responsibilities during the day.
It’s best to be realistic about what you can get done and when. If you can, plan each workday in advance and stick to that schedule. Otherwise, you may end up having a hard time balancing work deadlines and preparing meals for the kids.
If you share childcare with your spouse or a childcare provider, aim to do your best work when the kids are out of sight. By planning ahead and dividing your time between work and home life, you can give your full attention to your job while you’re on the clock and your kids when you’re not.
Get Real with Your Boss and Teammates
While it might be a privilege to work from home and still get paid, don’t let your excitement for the situation make you lose focus of the practicality. Staying at the top of your game at work while taking care of your children at the same time can be unrealistic.
Consider what’s being asked of your kids. They’ve suddenly halted all their regular routines, from school interactions to sports and activities. Now they sit with you at home all day, seeking all-day attention, while you try to work. Eventually, they’ll get restless.
If this resonates with you, it may be time you have a candid conversation with your boss and teammates and explain your tricky predicament. Explain that you’re committed to helping your employer navigate these difficult times, but also ensure you communicate what obstacles you’re likely to face in the background. Honestly with your employers will help them set doable goals and timelines.
Be Prepared for Anything
As you know, anything can happen when kids are thrown into what is expected to be an organized and professional setting. Whatever toy or snack keeps your toddlers distracted, keep it on standby as an emergency back-up. For example, a tablet loaded with your kid’s favorite games, cartoons paused on your TV, or sticker books may do the trick. All of these will keep your child distracted while you’re trying to meet your workload deadlines.
Show Yourself Some Grace
Working from home while trying to balance family and childcare can be downright exhausting. Give yourself some time to unwind. Remember, you’re not perfect, and neither are your children. If you need a break or have an off day, give yourself some room to breathe and relax.
You can also incorporate breaks into your work-from-home schedule to boost your energy. Do some yoga, practice an instrument, or try new recipes as you self-quarantine. Keep in mind your entire family will benefit more from being around the healthier, or at least better rested, version of you.
Though working from home will likely be uncomfortable and difficult to some degree, especially when your kids are stuck indoors, remember that you have the tools and knowledge to make it through the day. Maintaining your health and the health of others is worth the challenge, and everyone is in this together.