Balancing Parenting and Remote Working
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, schools and daycares across the United States have closed with most already declaring they will stay closed until the next school year. In addition, parents are being asked to work remotely, creating a whole new array of challenges many are not used to. “Though many parents have had one ‘working-from-home day’ when a kid is sick or the weather is bad, the reality of working remotely every single day alongside your kids will be a steep learning curve for a lot of people,” says FlexJobs career development manager Brie Reynolds. To help you maintain a productive and healthy work-life balance during the coronavirus outbreak, here are the best tips we have gathered for parents that are now working remotely!
Tips for Parents Working Remotely
- Create a Schedule: Any parent with experience in balancing parenting and remote working will tell you that creating a schedule is absolutely critical. The more detailed the schedule, the better. Start by adding wake up time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime, and then fill in the gap hours with activities such as snack time, outside time, creative time, technology time, quiet time, etc. Everyone in the household will not only be more productive on a schedule, but it will help ease the sense of restlessness and uncertainty you and your children might be feeling.
- Have Quality Time: Remember to set aside time in your schedule for quality time with your family, whether it is eating dinner together at the table, playing a board game, taking a family walk, or playing catch in the yard together. The coronavirus pandemic is causing a lot of stress and anxiety, but it is also providing us with more family time than we would normally get. Taking advantage of this family time is not only a great way to relax and take a mental break from the tasks of the day, but it also gives everyone a chance to reconnect.
- Provide Healthy Activities and Snacks: Scheduling in time for the kids to be active each day and providing healthy snacks during snack time is important for so many reasons. Staying active is a great way for kids to release their stress and rejuvenate their minds so they can focus on school work or creative projects and you can focus on work. Healthy snacks that are high in protein and fiber, and low in added sugar is ideal for keeping them full and focused. And most importantly, healthy snacks and physical activity is the best way to keep your children’s immune systems strong, which is critical during a pandemic.
- Communicate: Communication is the key to success no matter what the situation is. In this case, it is important to even “over communicate.” Communicate with your children about the schedule and have it clearly displayed to hold everyone accountable. Communicate with your team about the fact that you are balancing parenting and remote working and let them know when your most productive hours will be. Typically, this will be the hours you set aside for nap time, quiet time, creative time, etc. Also, let them know you might have to step out during a meeting or you may have call interruptions, but you will do your best to handle it quickly and get right back on task.
- Set Boundaries: Setting boundaries with your children, especially if they are school aged, is an important step in keeping everyone’s stress levels down. There are specific rules and boundaries while they are at school, so make it clear that the same goes for the household. For example, Reynolds shares a great tip of having her kid do an art project to create a “stop” sign and a “go” sign. If the stop sign is on her office door, then her six-year-old son knows not to walk in unless it is an emergency. If the go sign is up, he is free to walk right in.
- Lower Your Expectations: This is an unusual and highly stressful time for everyone, and children can definitely sense that. So, it is important to not put high expectations on yourself to work at a normal capacity or be the perfect parent. To get things done, you may have to schedule in more screen time for the children than you would like too, or you might have to split your to-do-list in half. What is important is that you are doing your best.
- Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude: In a previous blog post we explained how mindfulness benefits both your mind and your body. Set aside time each day to practice mindfulness, whether it is before the children wakeup, during meal time, or before they go to bed. There are plenty of ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day and you are sure to experience the positive benefits! In addition, focus on feeling gratitude each day. It is easy to be upset about all the events that have been canceled or postponed and how coronavirus has negatively impacted our lives. However, this only adds to our stress levels. Instead, focus on the feeling grateful for getting to spend time with your family, that you and your family are healthy, or that you have a job that was able to let their employees work from home. Writing down these and any other positive thoughts is a great way to destress, refocus, and feel happier in a time of uncertainty.