Working from home for any length of time can be a big adjustment for most people. Many of us have gone from an office full of adults where you can nip to a nice meeting room or sit in a break out area for some quiet time to crack on with work, to a dining room table that doubles up as a desk, which is also a play room and a make shift school for the foreseeable.
With feelings of anxiety and uncertainty floating about, alongside the guilt of your children perhaps having to watch TV more than you would like, it can be challenging to focus on your work productively.
Here at Opus, we have a number of working parents and we’ve asked them to share their top tops for balancing work whilst keeping their children entertained:
1 – Pre plan their days. In the evenings create a timetable offering some structure and purpose to your children’s days. Depending on age, this can range from jobs or chores to help with, any schoolwork/topics to cover, to playing outside or joining in an ‘isolated’ dog walk.
2 – Include them in your work. This will most likely apply to younger children, try to involve them in what you are doing, pretend they are working at your work too, so both of you sit at the table and they can do some colouring, drawing, craft stuff which will hopefully allow you to then get on with what you need to.
3 – Utilise flexibility! Remember that you don’t always need to work 9-5. Ensure you have open communication with your colleagues and manager regarding this. If your children would like you to join in with the Joe Wicks PE lessons at 9am every morning – do it! It is half an hour, that will soon tire your children out and offer you a bit of peace after. If they need help with work or their lunch making, you can do this and slot your work around it.
4 – Netflix / Disney Plus! Netflix is full of informative documentaries and can be utilised as part of home schooling. Disney Plus has also just launched and will be a great resource to keeping your kids entertained with lots of films.
5 – Break your day into chunks. This will be helpful for your own peace of mind as much as it will be your children’s. This way you can set realistic time frames for you own tasks and children’s activities as well as working to a schedule to ensure your children still have some sort of structure, albeit a relaxed one!
6 – Virtual playdates! Unfortunately, the normal play dates are currently unable to take place, however, do not let this stop interaction with other children for your child. Using Facetime, Zoom or other video calling software will allow you some of your own time whilst you child chats to their friends. It will certainly brighten your child’s day whilst allowing you some free time to work. Mention them having calls with grandparents so they don’t feel isolated too.
Make sure your day is working for you and your children, if you spend your day stressed and worried about their schedule, then your work time will be unproductive.
It may take a few days or even a week of trial and error, but stay positive and think of how unlikely it is that we will ever have to experience this again. This is a time to really value the extra time spent with your children.
You must accept that things are not going to run completely smoothly and some days we aren’t going to be our 100% productive selves. But with adapted expectations, a flexible approach and being resourceful, you will be amazed at how we can all adapt, children included.