There are thousands of people who work from home every day, and are used to managing their work schedules around childcare. But for the vast majority of people who are now taking to their homes, this is unknown territory, and the upcoming weeks of working from home at the same time as the schools are closed is a daunting prospect. But there are ways that you can balance working from home with childcare, and make this an enjoyable experience for your whole family. We’ve compiled some tips for how to work from home while your children are off school, making sure that you stay effective and they keep busy.
1. Help them to release energy.
At school, they would have been running around and playing, and using up loads of energy. Do exercises with them in the morning and afternoon. There are great online resources available for this, such as the Body Coach’s home exercises for kids. It will be good for them and good for you.
2. Keep them learning but make it fun.
They will have missed at least 3 months of school, and this could be critical for their learning and development. Use the summer to keep them learning, but make it fun. At school, the teachers will get creative with their learning activities, so try to do the same thing. Give the kids creative learning activities and while they are doing them, you can share the table and get into some of your own work.
3. Give them regular breaks, and take them together.
If you are going to be doing learning activities with your kids over the summer, then it’s important to give them regular breaks. Prepare snacks for the day in the morning to save time, and do fun things during the breaks. Have a mini-dance party, run around the lounge or play a game. Then when the break is over, they can go back to learning, and you can go back to working.
4. When you are taking breaks with the kids, be fully present.
Work can wait for 15 minutes while you bond with your kids.
5. Create a schedule.
Whether it’s learning activities or just plain fun, if you know that your kids have a limited attention span per activity, use that to your advantage. Plan the day’s activities ahead (both theirs and yours), and try to set up their activities to seamlessly move from one onto the next, buying you more continuous work time. If your kids are old enough, share the schedule with them and involve them in the planning process.
6. Does their school have a merit system?
Start one at home, and use it to help you get a slightly more consistent work schedule. Give points for activities completed, and a reward once you reach a certain amount of points. These can be for anything – tidying their rooms, watering the garden, eating all their veggies, or even just playing quietly for an hour while you’re on a team call.
7. Keep them social.
Organise play-dates with their friends, or if you’re still staying home, then let them video call their friends, or help them to set up a video conference using Zoom or skype to keep in touch. It will be important to help them maintain their social skills. Use this time when they are distracted to get into some of your own tasks, or to stay in touch with your own team.
8. Share the load.
If you have a partner who is also working from home, set up a timetable together of who will watch the kids when, and then schedule any important conference calls or complex projects for while your partner is taking over the childcare. It also helps to share your work schedule with your partner.
9. Work when they are sleeping.
When you are working from home, you are master of your schedule. You could choose to spend less time working in the day and rather do a few hours at night after they’ve gone to sleep, schedule meetings or complex work for naptimes, or wake up a few hours before your kids. And don’t feel guilty when you’re with them. Your work is getting done, so enjoy your time together.
10. Give them downtime.
Being a kid is busy work. All of that activity is bound to make them tired, so when they’ve done some exercise and tidied up, let them watch a movie or play on the ipad for a little while. It will help them to wind down after a busy day, and give you the chance to get some uninterrupted work time.
Do you have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!
You can find remote working opportunities on jobs.ac.uk. Look after yourselves, stay safe and good luck with your job search!