Maintaining Productivity Levels When You Work From Home With KidsAUTHOR: Noah Rue
Your toddler has just found the paint, there’s spaghetti on the walls, and you’re starting to wonder “why did I choose to work from home?”
Remote working is a great option for parents with families, but, as you probably know, working from home with kids can quickly transform into a messy, noisy nightmare. This is particularly frustrating if you are a single parent, or are left alone with the kids while you’re supposed to be working.
However, working from home (WFH) with kids doesn’t have to mean that your productivity levels will dip. Choosing WFH can still help you get more done during the day, as you don’t have to leave work to pick them up from daycare or take a day off when their school is closed.
The key is to be strategic in your approach and plan the day to make the most of your breaks.
Communicate with Managers
You simply cannot perform at your best when you are under extreme pressure. But managers are not mind readers, and they will hold you to the same standards they had before you made the switch to WFH. So, you need to openly communicate with your bosses to ensure that they adjust their expectations and give you a little more flexibility.
Ideally, you should have some solutions to make up for lost productivity due to childcare when meeting with management. You should be firm about the reality that your kids will need attention throughout the workday but can also pitch ideas like logging on a little earlier and taking an extended lunch break. You should also suggest more realistic targets, which give you a daily goal and allow you to take some time off if you finish early.
Hopefully, your direct manager will understand the pressure of raising a family and will be receptive to your requests for greater flexibility or adjusted standards. However, if you run into resistance don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. Raising your kids should always take priority over your career, and there are probably other employees who will appreciate your request for help when working from home with kids.
Some careers simply don’t gel well with family life. If you work in a particularly pressurized career and are responsible for others, it may be worth scaling back your work commitment and going part-time until your kids become more independent.
But scaling back your career commitment doesn’t mean that you have to reduce your income. If you’re a skilled employee, you’ll probably find plenty of work by offering services in a freelancing capacity. Sites like UpWork and Fiverr are great for finding work, and you can easily grow a portfolio based on your existing experience.
If you aren’t sure of which opportunities are best for you, consider sticking to the most in-demand opportunities. Typically, this includes programming for machine learning, data analytics, video editing, and SEO management. Fortunately, all of these roles can be completed remotely, and you will gain greater freedom over your workday when working for yourself.
Planning Your Day
Creating a schedule for your day is a great way to improve your time management skills and improve your productivity while you WFH with kids. However, as a parent, you know that the more that you plan, the more that seems to go awry.
When planning your workday, try to create as much flexibility as possible. You simply cannot fill every minute with work and productivity, as your kid is bound to stub their toe, ask for a snack, or simply complain of boredom. If you plan every minute of your day, you’ll just feel frustrated by your lack of progress and loss of productivity.
Instead, try to create a flexible plan for the day that sets a few task-based goals. You can make this easier by using a digital planner which allows you to shift your checklist with a click of a button and can be easily duplicated or revised if you need to start afresh.
When putting together your plan, focus on creating as much slack as possible while still achieving your daily goals. This runs counter to most productivity tips for remote workers, but intentionally planning slack time into your day allows you to spend more time with your kids and helps you avoid time crunches at the end of your workday.
Occupying Your Kids
You should always prioritize your children in an emergency, but, in reality, they probably don’t need your attention 24/7. Instead, your kids need to learn to respect your boundaries and occupy themselves from time to time.
The way you occupy your kids depends on their age. Younger children should stay relatively close to you throughout the day but can be occupied with kid tablets loaded with edutainment. Tablets loaded with educational games will teach your children important STEM-related skills, and will engage them enough to let you focus on time-sensitive projects.
Older children and teens can be given far more freedom throughout the day and benefit from greater responsibility. You can even set them tasks that build skills and feel “adult”. For example, if your children are creative, set them a goal of creating a photo album to share as a post-work presentation. This will give your children a basic understanding of photo editing skills and will keep them occupied throughout the day.
Working from home when you have kids is always a challenge. However, you can ease the stress and strain of a workday by entertaining your children with edutainment and taking on freelance work that suits your schedule and allows you to work to your own deadlines.