How to Work from Home While Looking After Children

As the government announced that schools in England would close from Mon 23rd March for the foreseeable future due to Covid-19 (except for children of critical workers), parents across the country have understandably become anxious as to how they’ll effectively work from home while minding young children.

We’ve spoken to several candidates and clients these past few days who are facing a difficult predicament; trying to establish a healthy balance between managing their workload and keeping up productivity while looking after their family and coping with any disruptions this may have on telephone or video calls.

It’s uncertain how long these current working conditions will be in place for, but we must retain a good perspective on the situation at hand and try to work as proficiently as possible under the current circumstances.

So we thought it would be a good idea to put together some helpful top tips for parents trying to navigate their way around working from home whilst looking after their kids:

  1. Develop a Schedule
    Having a set plan for daily/weekly tasks can be useful for helping you develop a stable balance between your work and family obligations. Now of course, situations will arise that you could not have planned for, which is fine. Flexibility is key here. If you must place certain tasks to one side for the time being, just remember to make a note of them and revisit the tasks later.

If you have any sensitive calls you need to take which will require complete silence from your end, ensure your children are aware of this and have an activity set up in advance for them which will cover the time of the call.

  1. Utilise Online Learning Resources

One of the key responsibilities for parents is ensuring that your children have a solid education. With schools now closing for the foreseeable future, it is understandable that some parents will be worried that their kids’ education may suffer. But fear not, there are numerous free learning resources readily available online for children of all ages, and many schools and colleges have implemented their own online classrooms and have handed out homework packs.

BBC Bitesize, Future Learn and Open Learn are just a few examples of useful resources intended to help your children with schoolwork and examinations. Although examinations have been cancelled for this year, there’s no harm in helping your child take advantage of the current situation and continue their personal development.

  1. Prioritise Your Workload

Prioritising your workload has always been a key component of any job role, and with recent developments, it’s essential. It’s important to remember you can’t do everything. So tasks which don’t require immediate attention should be put aside for now. The idea here is to work smarter, not harder. This will ensure that you don’t get bogged down with unnecessary tasks, avoid getting overworked and remain productive.

  1. Create a Plan of Self-Led Activities
    Trying to get your work done whilst keeping your children entertained may seem a little tricky at first. However, developing a list of self-led activities for them to follow can massively improve your chances of working efficiently without being constantly disturbed. There are numerous activities out there that can be fun and engaging for children of all ages.

Just a few examples include reading, playing educational games, arts and crafts, and watching tv (but not too much!). Set them challenges to complete each day – for example, pin a map up on the wall, give them a country a day and ask them to find 5 interesting and unusual facts about it. Where possible, try to keep your working space and your children’s learning / play spaces separate.

  1. Set Some Time Aside for Yourself (Parents Need a Break Too!)
    The need to take regular breaks whilst working from home cannot be emphasized enough. You may feel you shouldn’t take a break, as you want to demonstrate to your employer that you really are But it’s crucial to take some time out to recharge your batteries and look after your mental health. This will help you have a refreshed focus on your workload and increase your productivity.

It’s important to remember that these are very unusual and unprecedented times and that you’re not alone in this situation. Companies should be willing to be lenient and to make exceptions, and if you find you’re struggling with your current work set up speak to a colleague or your manager.

Trying to set a good balance between your work and family life is not easy and there is no defined approach to doing this. With the continuous uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, each day will be different and will require adjustments to fit your specific needs. However, with a little patience and a positive attitude, you will find the right structure for yourself and your kids.