Working from home with young children can feel like the hardest thing in the world – a parent has to do two jobs – the one they’re being paid for and the one they’re not. And they have to do them both at the same time to a ‘good enough’ standard. A mother will still be a mother even if they park the kids in front of the television all day (albeit a stressed out and guilty-feeling one), but neglect a paid job and they could lose it…so what are the main things to remember when a parent’s workplace is also their home?
Learn to be flexible
There will come a point in the day when there is an urgent email that needs a response, or a phone call that has to be made before a certain time – this will inevitably coincide with a nappy that needs to be changed, a mega-tantrum, a request for a snack or a tired toddler who needs to be put down for a nap. It will take time, but work at home parents learn to just fit things in around each other, somehow.
…But at the same time have a schedule
It can help to have set times of the day where work is the priority and vice versa – something like a dedicated work morning, and an afternoon playing and doing child-friendly activities. It’s ok to say to the children that “Mummy will be working for an hour while you play by yourselves. Then we can go to the park.” Or, for parents whose children still have a nap, there could be a wonderfully quiet chunk of time after lunch where lots of work can get done.
Consider using childcare
Some parents really couldn’t work from home without some sort of childcare – this can be especially true for tiny toddlers, who really can’t be left alone for a moment. A nanny for a couple of hours a day, or a morning or two per week at a nursery can be invaluable.
Sure, it can be really stressful working from home when you have young children, but there are some great perks. Work-at-home parents can usually collect their children from school, or take their children to doctor’s appointments or other things that have to be done in working hours… and they get to stop for a play-break, or can got to work in the pyjamas if they fancy it. It can also be wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with your children while also making some money and, although they may be too young to understand, it can be a good way to show children the importance of working and give a parent another identity rather than ‘just’ Mum or Dad.