Most companies would have implemented work from home or split-team arrangement and students are getting accustomed to home-based learning. These additional social distancing measures mean that both you and your children will be at home together a lot more than usual.
However, this is something that we were already working towards way before COVID-19 and will likely continue to do so after this pandemic. Parents were advocating for work-from-home to have more face time with their kids, which would help them strike a balance between work and family. Students were also encouraged to use new technology in the classroom to prepare them for the digital economy.
every working parent is facing the same challenge
Having your kids at home all day can be very distracting, as they will want your attention all the time. Celebrities are no different. Jimmy Fallon’s daughter crashed his Tonight Show and the whole world watched Professor Robert Kelly’s family run into the interview.
While these moments can be hilarious, they are relatable. Working parents face the same challenges in inconvenient distractions. Imagine trying to meet a deadline and your child just had to pick that time to tell you that they’re hungry.
tips for parents on setting boundaries when working from home
1. create daily a schedule for your children
Your kid may feel restless from being cooped up at home all day. You can proactively organise a full-day schedule for them that incorporates their e-learning curriculum.
Having a full-day routine helps kids manage their time and experience some levels of normalcy in their lives. They should continue to have naps and meals as they normally would. It should not be a big adjustment to them as they should already be used to it. Having a timetable can also establish healthy and constructive habits for them.
Your child’s body will also know when it is time to wind down and rest after school or play time, which will divert their energy away from you.
You can make sure that your daily schedule is aligned with theirs. This means being able to have “recess” and “lunch breaks” together. It would also help to minimise unannounced disruptions, as when they are free, you are free; and when you’re busy, so are they.
2. share the responsibility with your partner
If you and your partner are both working from home that day, consider agreeing on a schedule where you take turns to look after your kids.
For example, you could take care of morning duties that consist of you preparing breakfast, and sitting beside your children to ensure that they are listening and paying attention to their online class. Your partner can take over in the afternoon to help prepare lunch and ensure they get their homework done.
By taking turns, both you and your partner can work with a peace of mind knowing that there will always be someone looking after the kids.
However, if you’re chasing a deadline, then you’d need to communicate with your partner that they need to put in more hours with the kids that day. Just make sure you pick up the slack another day!
3. take regular breaks
Even though you are working, you should take a well-deserved break whenever you can. Spend some time with your family to de-stress yourself, such as making a quick açaí bowl or play a round of Wheel of Fortune on your phone.
If you need your children to use up some energy so that they can sleep easier at night, peel them away from their phones and do some physical activities together. Have a fun dance battle or do a simple 20-minutes workout that involves jumping jacks or push-ups that will exhaust them, so that everyone can enjoy a good night’s sleep.
4. have your own space
Make sure that you have a dedicated workspace at home. If your child is old enough, let them study in their own rooms instead of common spaces like the living room or dining hall. This helps remove any distractions such as the gaming console, the television or the fridge.
Explain to your child why they can’t disturb you when you are working, especially when you are in the middle of a conversation or video conference. Establish boundaries and help them understand when they can or cannot disturb you. Let them know that they have to wait for the appropriate times of the day, such as lunch and breaks, to have your full attention.
5. conduct regular check-ins
Leaving your child alone for hours at a time could be a bad idea, especially when they are being suspiciously quiet. Young children may sometimes misjudge their choices, such as having their hand stuck in a nutella jar and not having the courage to tell you.
Make sure you put time aside to check on them regularly. Let them know that there is a treat waiting for them if they follow their schedule and remain well-behaved. It is also important to take some time to communicate with your child and convey your expectations when you’re checking in.
Children are active by nature and may feel frustrated when they are not allowed to play outdoors or meet their friends. Make sure that they are not stressed or feeling any elevated anxiety from being constrained at home for a prolonged period. If they do, explain to them that by staying home they are safe from the virus and are helping doctors and nurses with their workload.
bonus tip: two-dollar note game
Just can’t keep your child under control? You’re not alone. Here’s an interesting game for your children to play. All you need is a wall, and a few two-dollar notes.
Place a two-dollar note between the wall and their foreheads, and all they have to do is press their foreheads against the note to keep it there. If you have one child, challenge them to keep it up for as long as they can, and once they’ve completed the challenge, they can have the two-dollar note as a reward.
It can even be a competition if you have more than one child! The child that keeps the two-dollar note up against the wall the longest gets to keep the money.
stay safe and be with your family
Even before the pandemic, many parents were already working from home one day a week to have more face time with their kids. And working from home may be an option for you in the future, and as an employee and a parent, you are responsible for your own deadlines, as well as your child’s health and development.
It is definitely distracting to spend the entire day at home with your kids when you have to work, but take it as an opportunity to spend more time with them and treasure these special moments. It is not every day that you’ll get to watch them ace a quiz or learn something new.
If you feel that your employer is not being proactive in supporting working parents, you could step-up and suggest new ideas and manage up. Here’s an employer guide to remote working which provides some ideas on how your employer can give you more flexibility and autonomy while working from home.