It’s been three days of working from home with my six-year-old around and I have had to make adjustments to ensure that I meet my work goals and that I’m present for her needs.
Working from home with a child or children present is hard, there’s no other way to put it. When I told my daughter that I would be working from home, she was elated. I suppose she thought this meant we would get to spend more time together, which is true. But I also knew that I needed to meet my work goals
Many parents are fortunate enough to work from home during this COVID-19 isolation period. With our children also home from school, it can be difficult to keep your professional and home life thriving.
So how do you ensure that you ace it both at motherhood and at work, especially when you are employed.
1. Create a schedule
Plan out your day scheduling everything from work tasks to mummy time and when you’ll do your house chores. Make a to do list both for work and home, listing your deliverables for that day. Remember though that even with a schedule you might have to make adjustments depending on what is happening at home.
2. Explain your new schedule to your children
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If your children are old enough tell them that you will need to spend a few hours in the day working. Teach them to respect that time. When you’re expecting a call from your boss, inform them that you need a few minutes to yourself so they shouldn’t interrupt you. Parents suggests using signals to show your kids not to interrupt you e.g. tying a scarf on the door or putting a hat on for the duration of the call.
Most of the time, they will understand and give you the space you need to do your work.
3. Set up dedicated office space
One of the things that has helped me to be productive and ensure that baby girl respects “office time” is setting up dedicated office space. I set up a desk and chair in a corner in my tiny kitchen and it serves as my office. This has helped me to seperate mum-mode from work-mode. I don’t get tempted to do the dishes or tidy the sitting room. And when I finish my work for the day, I leave my laptop and notebook on my desk and go into mum-mode, dedicating my full attention to my daughter and my home.
4. Give them the attention they ask for
I realised that when my daughter comes to me asking for help to read, if I give her half an hour of my time, it makes her happy and once she has read enough, she leaves happily.
There will be times your child needs your attention, give it to them. Then you’re assured of some alone time when she goes out to play. You might need to give them a corner near you where they can play. This will make them feel closer to you and keep them relaxed.
At the same time, if you have put your child down for a nap and they wake up say when you’re in the middle of a work call, it’s perfectly okay to let them self-soothe until you’re done. One mum told Parents that she puts her phone on mute so that her boss doesn’t hear the noise from her end of the call.
5. Make use of downtime
You're assured of a bit of alone time during nap or playtime. Make use of this time to do work that needs your full attention or to make calls.
I also noticed that waking up a little earlier, before the drama of the day begins, will allow me an hour or two to work.
6. Get help
Since we’re self-isolating, you can’t rely on daycare or the neighbour’s kids to help in keeping your child entertained. However, if you have family around you, ask them to entertain your child for a while so that you can work. You and your spouse can take turns keeping your kids busy so that each of you has some free time to dedicate to work.
This is new territory for many of us, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Each day might be different so be ready to make adjustments. Remember that as long as by the end of the day you have fulfilled your obligations at home and at work, you’re doing just fine.