man working from home with children

Working at home with children

How to juggle childcare when you are working from home

The current pandemic has resulted in significant changes in working practices for everyone with a large number of employees and business owners moving to a home-based operation. For those who are parents, the additional dimension of providing care for their children at the same time as trying to keep their business going, can prove stressful.

For women particularly, the impact of the closure of the service-based businesses in which they are employed or run businesses, can profoundly affect the burden of care they take on. Many may already be responsible for the majority of domestic labour and care for children and elderly relatives and this can put extra pressure on women just when they need to concentrate on their business. 

With this in mind, but not ignoring the fact that many men do play their part in household care, we’ve put together our top tips from our very own team of working parents:

  • Designate areas of the home where each working member can operate their home office without interruptions particularly when taking part in online meetings and videoconferences. 
  • Allocate times where the parent working is not disturbed which may need to be flexible around childcare and the needs of the family – the rules of 9-5 probably don’t apply any more
  • Discuss your new working arrangements with your boss, employees, colleagues and suppliers so that they understand what is happening
  • Build routines into your day so that there is structure to help things run more smoothly 
  • Ensure that domestic duties such as shopping, meal preparation, cleaning and laundry are shared out and accept that with more people in the house all day, that your normal standards of housekeeping may have to slip a little
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve in the current situation with your additional child-care responsibilities 
  •  Make sure that you take time out for you – take your daily exercise in the fresh air if possible, spend time away from the other members of the family doing something that you enjoy
  • Sometimes the only way to ensure that you get peace and quiet is to let the children enjoy some extra time in front of the TV. This will mean that you will be able to crack on with that to do list and in turn will then have time to be a happy and attentive parent. You can set timers to make sure that they don’t spend too much time online and integrate reading and school work into their viewing 
  • Research some fun things that you can do as a family together when you are enjoying some downtime – there are loads online such as this one from Save the Children
  • Don’t lose track of the focus for your business and don’t try to do it alone – think about up-skilling with the abundancy of online workshops and training such as through the Accelerating Women’s Enterprise or GetSet for Growth programmes
  • Preparation is key – make up snacks and packed lunches in advance to save you making meals every time that “I’m hungry” echoes around the house. The same goes for activity boxes containing things that they can choose to do such as a drawing box, a lego box and challenges such as building towers
  •  Technology is your friend! Connect grandparents and children through story time via Facetime or WhatsApp video calls – it frees you up and makes sure that relatives have some time with their grandkids to look forward to – double bonus! 
  • If you are home schooling, write a plan each morning with your child over breakfast to break the day into chunks of learning and play time as well as meals that you can eat together. You Tube has a wealth of videos to help with learning topics 
  • Remember that you won’t have all the answers so don’t expect to be able to manage everything – go at your own pace and be flexible to remove the pressure at this tricky time

Juggling work and childcare can be a tiring but survivable experience and one that many remote workers negotiate every day. Whilst this situation is only temporary, you can make it less stressful with the help of some planning, flexibility and communication.