By Adrie Van Wonterghem
Juggling a full-time career as a full-time parent is no easy task. Last week, we shared a few tips to help support our working parents in achieving this harmony. Now, with most working professionals working from home, this balance is even harder to achieve. Between conference calls and crying little ones, the solace and separation a physical office provides seems to be nowhere to be found. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the WFH life this week.
Create a Schedule that Includes Office Hours
Make the most of your time each day by creating a strategic schedule and sharing it with the members of your family. Schedule specific times when work is your primary focus, and that you should not be bothered unless necessary. Let your family know when you have “office hours” and provide quiet individual activities for your little ones to do during these times. For example, select a special quiet activity such as drawing or playing with play dough for when you have important conference calls and meetings, that your little ones can only do during your “office hours”. Limit screen time only for your most important working hours. Ensure that your little ones are aware of the schedule by creating visuals for your routine and placing them where everyone can see them easily.
Plan for Interruptions and Create Signals
When working from home with little ones, interruptions are bound to happen. Ease the stress and chaos they can create by establishing different signals for communicating ahead of time. For example, create signs with your child that they can show you when they are in need. A sign for emergencies, for snack requests, or for help with something. In turn, create signals that you can show them. Show them a red sign to indicate that they need to wait patiently until you can help them. A yellow sign means I can help you for a short time, and green means I am able to play and spend time together. Clear and creative communication strategies will prevent accidental disruptions and tantrums.
Separate Parent and Business Roles
The absence of working from the office often means the boundaries between work and home are blurred. Avoid divided attention and a seemingly endless workday by setting clear boundaries between your role as a parent and as business professional. Close the office door, laptop screen, and mute notifications when your workday is over. Shift focus to your family and set yourself up for a productive morning by making a list of work tasks that can wait till tomorrow. Clear boundaries will help you prioritize your energy towards each role, without feeling over extended.
Working full time with little ones is no easy task, but consistency is key. Change doesn’t happen overnight but staying persistent and intentional will help solidify your WFH routine. For more information on how to find the balance between Career and Child, check out last week’s blog post here.