Back to school: how to manage working from home with your kids

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As schools go back around the nation, working parents are faced with the prospect of juggling the responsibility of working from home with caring for their children – and more than that, ensuring they adhere to their school’s curriculum. If you find this notion overwhelming or daunting, know that you are not alone.

Children require a lot of time and attention, which raises many questions for employees who have been asked to work remotely due to COVID-19. Just how do you manage parenting while also taking conference calls, working to tight deadlines and keeping up the same output?

To care for and home school your children while working remotely is going to take self-awareness, planning, communication and technology to ensure as little disruption as possible to both your child’s school life and your work.

Here, we’ve provided some useful strategies to help you manage this dual responsibility that will keep the home, school and working world manageable during COVID-19 isolation.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

While you may be used to having meetings in a boardroom, taking conference calls without interruption and presenting yourself professionally in your workplace, it’s important to acknowledge that this might not be your reality while working from home with your children present. And that’s ok.

According to Ed Milne, National Manager for CozWine and Baytech recruitment brands, it is important not to become too hung up on losing some of the smaller luxuries granted to us when in the workplace.

“Typically we all do our best to be presentable and be completely focused in our meetings,” Ed says.

“And while this is important, the current reality for us right now presents a different working environment to the one many of us are used to. Sometimes your children may interrupt, your partner could accidentally photo bomb your video meeting, or your pet decides to announce itself unexpectedly.”

“We all have multiple, competing and challenging tasks, and being at home with family has added one more to our list. So if you need to put yourself on mute during a meeting, or close off your video for a minute while you attend to your children, that’s OK. Know that you are doing your best with the situation we are facing.”

Time management and scheduling

Your typical work routine may be thrown out while your children undergo their schooling from home, so it’s a good idea to be flexible around this.

One of the best ways to manage this situation is by creating a daily work and schooling schedule that both you and your child agree on. This will help to give you a realistic understanding of what is possible during a specific time frame and can also keep both you and your child on track throughout the day.

Creating an effective schedule will create balance between home duties, educational responsibilities and work obligations, while also ensuring you are carving out personal family time too. This ensures that the world of work, school and home do not become overly blurred.

Those with younger children will have different challenges than those with older children, and it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve and when.

Communicate with your colleagues and manager

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented everyone with a need to adapt. Therefore, once you have established a schedule with your family, it is important to communicate this plan with your colleagues and manager in a way that ensures they are supportive and can work with your constraints and capabilities. This will help to reduce frustrations and create as little disruption to your team’s routine possible.

For example, if you typically have a team meeting each day at 9am, but are now required to settle your 8-year-old child down at their computer to begin their school day at this time, communicate this with your manager. They will likely be understanding and more then able to shift meeting times to adapt to the needs of their now remote team.

Create a workspace

Research suggests that employees working remotely are generally able to better manage the balance between their home and working lives by establishing a designated workspace within their home. By creating a physical boundary between your home and work environment, you are better able to establish boundaries between these two components of your life, helping to relieve stress.

For some, this could mean tuning a spare room into a study where you can work from, or else separating your living space with a bookshelf or room divider so you can still hear and see your young children. It is important to communicate these dividers to your family as well, so they can distinguish what behaviour is appropriate where.

Look after yourself

During this time, it may feel the increased pressure of being an employee, parent and now teacher. For this reason, it is more important than ever to look after your own wellbeing, and try to find the silver lining.

“While these are indeed strange and challenging times, let’s try to enjoy the time we have working from home, and use it as an opportunity to spend more time with our children and reconnect with loved ones,” says Ed.

Remember that you also need time to unwind and relax, just as you would after a normal working day, so it is important to make time for this in your schedule. Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes or feel guilty if your child is watching more television than usual. You are working in an unprecedented time and it will take time to adjust.

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