Working from home has its advantages, of course – I don’t think many people are missing their commute – but it also comes with significant challenges. And it’s proven to be particularly difficult for parents. Whether you have a baby or a toddler, they require constant love and attention – which is very difficult to give when you’re trying to send emails, answer calls and work to a deadline.
Perhaps childcare isn’t an option or you’re having to self-isolate due to a bout of COVID-19 at nursery; whatever the reason, there are a few simple tricks you can use to make your life as a working from home parent that little bit easier.
Get up Early
Getting ahead in the morning will kick your day off on a positive note. If you get up with your child, it’s a bit like waking at your office – which is not something any of us would wish for. So if you can, time your alarm for an hour before your little one is due to wake. Get yourself set for the day, pour yourself a big cup of coffee and have a read over your emails. It’s amazing what a bit of productive alone time in the morning can do for your mindset across the rest of the day.
Make the most of Nap Time
We all know how precious nap time is, and never more so than for the working from home Mum. Once you put your baby down to sleep, you know you’ve got uninterrupted time to really crack through your to do list. Take advantage of this and you’ll feel less pressure on yourself in the afternoon.
Try not to be too hard on yourself. Your productivity levels probably will go down a little, but that’s OK – this isn’t forever. Write yourself a to do list for the day, in order of priority. And don’t punish yourself if you don’t manage to complete all the tasks you’d hoped to.
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Establish a Routine (but be prepared to stay Flexible)
A solid routine will help you to learn when your most productive pockets of the day should be. From a set breakfast time when you can reply to emails, to a walk outside for some brainstorming and much-needed nap time for those Zoom calls, a routine will benefit the both of you. Your child will appreciate knowing what is happening day-to-day and you’ll be able to schedule your hours around this. Of course, a big advantage of working from home is flexibility, and we all know how unpredictable little ones can be, so it’s good to be prepared for a bit of change here and there.
Sometimes a Box is Enough
Set up little activities for your child that encourage independent play. Often, it’s not toys that keep them entertained for a chunk of time, but items around the house. Give them a paintbrush and a bucket of water and they can “paint” the patio or a tree in the garden. Invest in a tuff tray and try some messy play by mixing cornflour with water to make slime – guaranteed to keep them happy for a while! Or, if all else fails, make a den out of a box. It’s always a winner. These do take time and effort from you, but you should be rewarded with some solid independent play.
Relax screen time
Finally, don’t be too tough on yourself when it comes to screen time. If sitting them in front of the television for a bit will help you finish your work, then do it – and don’t think twice about it.