Working from home takes plenty of discipline. There are far more distractions to contend with. In fact, there are more than you may be dealing with at an office.
What about adding young children to the mix? This can make it an even greater challenge to get anything done.
Millions of parents are struggling with balancing work and family. Let’s say the two combine in one place. In that case, the struggle can be made all that more difficult.
How do you manage the conflict of approaching deadlines? Consider having small children who need almost constant attention.
Separate the two from one another. You approach your home office like any other workplace. There, you’d be required to show up to an office or a brick and mortar business.
This is to say, you’re not officially at home. You’re at work.
The ground rules must be laid down: During business hours, you take care of business. Once you’re off the clock, you take care of the kids.
Sounds easy enough, right? However, there’s one small problem.
How do the children fare during those eight or nine hours you’re at work? That’s the crux of the issue we’re going to explore in this article.
How do you manage to work from home and ensure your children are being taken care of properly?
There are a number of options you may wish to consider. After all, you are planning on getting a 40 hour work week accomplished while caring for your kids.
Setting Your Schedule
You need a structured routine to which to adhere. Otherwise, you’re doomed from the start.
You must strike that perfect balance between career and children. It is going to require serious organization.
That means giving yourself ample time. You need to focus on the things that need to get done for work. Your workspace needs to be kept separate from the rest of the house.
No kids in the office area while you’re working. No questions asked.
Be sure to devote a serious effort to provide yourself with enough time away from the children. If not, you will not finish your tasks and meet your deadlines. Instead, the work will never get done. Therefore, set a strict schedule for yourself.
Additionally, when you walk into your home office or workplace, shut the door. Then, get to work. Don’t even think about what’s going on beyond that door until your schedule permits. Start out strict and regimented.
Over time, you’ll be able to manage it successfully. Then, you can become a little more flexible with your schedule. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet. You’re starting out, so stay strict.
Predetermine your work hours. Make all your phone calls, answer your emails, take your meetings, and handle whatever is on your schedule.
Deadlines are important. They will help you maintain the regimented structure of your work hours. Setting that schedule can also give you some time with your family. After all, you need to break for lunch at some point.
Therefore, why not spend it with the kids? It’s great when you can all eat together. Take that opportunity to be a family during that time. It will allow you to check in on the children.
Plus, you can put your mind at ease. Then, you can confidently go back to work for the remainder of your day.
Who’s Taking Care of the Kids?
You’ve set your schedule. You’ve shut the door. Now it’s time to get to work. Who is making sure the children are fed and clothed? Who cares for them while you’re at work?
The answer to that question may depend on a few factors. These include things like the age of the child and the availability of help. Plus, consider your financial situation. Think about any arrangements you can make with your spouse.
In other words, you have a number of resources at your disposal. Thus, you need to decide which one (or ones) works best for you. You may need to put together a combination of solutions from week to week, even day to day.
Here are some that many work-at-home parents rely upon:
Maybe you have a babysitter or nanny come to your house. Perhaps, you bring your children to a location away from the home.
Daycare is an invaluable option for many work-at-home parents. They need someone to look after their kids while they’re at work.
Some parents feel uneasy, even guilty. They feel like they are throwing their kids out of the house just to get work done.
However, remember how you’re approaching this work arrangement. You’re doing it as you would any other that isn’t based in your own home.
Let’s say that you were driving to an office every morning for work. Thus, you’d likely bring your children to a daycare center until your work day ended.
It’s the same thing if you’re working from home. You need the time to focus on business. Therefore, don’t feel bad about driving the kids to daycare and picking them up after.
The other option is having someone come to the home and watch the children while you work. Going this route depends on your tolerance for having other people in the house.
It also depends on whether or not you have a dedicated, separate workplace. Having one will allow you to remain uninterrupted over the course of your predetermined work schedule.
Privacy is the key. Thus, allowing your workspace and home space to intermingle will almost undoubtedly slow your productivity.
Therefore, it’s very important to stress to whomever you hire that you need to adhere to your schedule. Explain that you are not to be disturbed during that time.
If you prefer, set times for check-ins. Take occasional breaks. In doing so, your children won’t be clamoring for your attention all day.
That is because they know you’re just on the other side of that door. This can alleviate the pressure on your babysitter or nanny. That’s because they’re tasked with barring the children from bothering you.
Yet, even this arrangement will require discipline. You’re going to be at your desk writing that email when you hear crying or wailing.
Your first instinct will likely be to run out there and see what’s wrong. However, you need to resist, unless there is an absolute emergency requiring urgent attention.
Be sure to establish what constitutes that standard ahead of time. Remember why the babysitter or nanny is there in the first place. They have a job to do and so do you.
Daycare may be a little out of your budget range for now. If so, what other options do you have? Certainly, you want to be sure the kids are safe and sound. You can always turn to your family.
Grandparents are often the first ones who are ready, willing, and able to help out. They love spending time with their grandchildren. Plus, they relish having the opportunity to be involved in their lives.
Do you or your spouse’s parents have the time and the competency to watch the children? If so, they are an ideal choice for helping out.
What are the ages of your children? You may also be able to rely on siblings. The older kids are generally responsible enough.
Yet, can they be trusted to watch over the younger ones while you are in the office? Only you can truly determine how effective this option will be with your kids.
The older kids may be at school for part of the day. However, once they come home, they can take over for the babysitter. This can reduce the number of hours you’ll need to pay that person to watch the younger children.
You’re going to be working from home. Sometimes, daycare help is not going to be available all or even some of the time.
Therefore, the two of you should have a discussion. You need to figure out how to share the responsibilities of caring for the kids.
Find a way to arrange your schedules in concert. Be sure they coincide in a manner where you can both work and the kids are well cared for.
Maybe, you can both work from home and take turns watching the children. However, perhaps that’s not feasible.
In that case, see if your workday can begin when your spouse’s ends. That way you avoid having to pay for childcare. That’s because one of you will always be around.
Be sure to communicate openly and honestly with one another. The stress of juggling career and family can become overwhelming without enough help. This can lead to tension in the relationship. Additionally, it could result in bigger problems later on.
Strategize Your Day
There will be days when it all falls through. The babysitter or nanny gets ill and can’t come over.
Friends and neighbors who would normally love to help just can’t that day, for whatever reason. Your spouse is stuck at the office and will be home late. The older kids have soccer practice.
It’s all coming down on your shoulders. There is just you and the children. How do you get through the day?
Don’t let your child set the pace. Instead, try to take long work shifts while he or she is napping or playing. Do it any time they are otherwise preoccupied enough that you can get some things done.
Let’s say you are the only one at home. It’s your responsibility to watch over the children. In that case, you will need to get creative about keeping them happy.
Additionally, you must stay focused on what needs to get done through the course of your workday. Stuff happens. When it does, you’re the only one you can turn to for getting it all handled.
That might also require resetting your priorities for the day. Put off cleaning up the house until tomorrow, when you have an extra set of hands to help you out.
If you have any comments about this topic or suggestions about future topics leave them in the comment box below.
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