Children often need constant attention throughout the day – while you may have planned activities for them to get on with while you’re working, it’s all too likely that they will get bored or distracted and will want to find something else to do. You need to be constantly aware that your youngsters may not be doing what you’d expected them to be doing.
Before your working day starts, make sure you’ve got not only enough activities planned to keep your child occupied for the next eight-or-so hours, but also additional activities in case they change their minds throughout the day.
In an ideal world we would be able to work fluidly around children’s naps and bursts of energy – however not all jobs this flexible. If you are on a call with five other people on the line, they probably won’t want to be kept waiting while you sort out snacks, drinks, and favourite TV shows.
Try instead to schedule important phone calls or serious downtime for when you’re confident you’ll have some peaceful time to yourself.
Explain what’s happening
Make children aware of what’s happening at home – whether it’s a one-off or a new working situation, they should know when they need to be careful of noise levels, especially if they can see mum or dad are on the phone, or if a video call is happening and they should play in another room.
It might be useful to have a few ‘test runs’ to help them learn the routine and understand when they need to let parents work. Set goals Offer incentives for your children – if they let you work for a certain period without disruptions, they get their favourite food for dinner, or a movie night, or a trip to the park for example.
As long as you’re able to keep working then they get their reward, meaning it’s a win-win for everyone. It can even work if they’re just sitting on your lap watching a video while you type away, meaning you still get to spend time with them while working.
Give yourself a break
If you’re working full time from home whilst also looking after little ones, look into childcare for one day a week or more to give yourself a rest and time to focus on your work.
If this isn’t an option, use your lunch break to wrap everything up and enjoy an hour together. Taking a break from your screen and some time together will reward you both, and make for a more productive rest of the day.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask others for a hand looking after your children.
If you have friends or family who are retired, unemployed or have different working schedules, ask if they can come and look after your youngsters for a few hours – this could mean taking them out for the day or even just spending some time with them while they’re in the house to keep them entertained while you’re busy.
You may even be able to share with another working parent with differing schedules – you spend some time looking after their children while they’re working, and they look after yours while you are working.
This can be a perfect solution to both of your parent/work life problems, and can even be a great way to make friends with other parents.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.