Working from home with children can work if you find the right balance and structure
They say “working from home” is here to stay because of the coronavirus pandemic, which does not seem to be easing down at all. They say that working from home has proved far more productive and some companies are even encouraging their staff members to keep working from home. But for parents having to balance working from home with family life, it might be a challenging task.
In my case, working from home with two daughters - a 10 year old and a 6 year old - was a learning experience of creating a structure balanced enough to handle home work, be productive and creative, while at the same time cope with different (and sometimes difficult) feelings. I found that a combination of measures worked quite well to balance work obligations with family harmony: good planning, structure, creativity, flexibility and a great sense of humor!
Let me share with you what I learned:
Communicate a family plan: Take time to explain the “new” situation to your children – be honest and transparent. Talk to your children about how they would like their day to be structured and how that might work with your responsibilities. Because there might be times were you will feel off limits and your children need to understand that.
Prioritize scheduling: Whilst it is important to maintain a daily routine and follow a certain structure, it is equally important to be prepared to adapt and be flexible to suit your and your children’s needs. And be realistic: you cannot mimic your day at the office as the situation has changed. So, create a daily plan for you and your children that includes work tasks and school schedules but also playtime and fun activities.
No need to multitask: When your children need you, take time off and return to your tasks later. And when it comes to school teaching (because schools were closed but classes were not cancelled) it is not necessary to feel you are taking on a new role; that of your children’s teacher. Motivate your children as you would do on a normal school day.
Split the work: Figure out how to make the best of the situation with your other half. Having the support you need makes all the difference. Only if you vocalize appreciation and support of the efforts being made and you share the burden you can maintain a well-being environment with less stress and more laughs.
And of course, having the support of your employer is imperative to balance the lines between work from home and taking care of your family. I am privileged to have employers who promote flexibility and enabled this positive link between home happiness and work productivity. Working for a software company came in handy and it made it especially easy for me as I did not have to care about anything. I got the equipment I needed and all the support necessary to cope with the new working reality.
As I am still working from home, whenever I am being asked for how long, I do not have the answer. This recipe has worked very well until now, but can it be as successful in the long term? I hope I will not have to find out... but if I do…they say that a good recipe never goes out of style.
By Sophia Karakeva, Communications and Marketing Executive, DataScouting and FIBEP Vice President