Megan was well into her first month learning how to balance parenting and working from home.
Some days, her virtual meetings were interrupted by the sounds of her three young children in the next room. Another time, she delivered a presentation to her team through a webcam only to have her youngest son walk through the background covered in arts and crafts.
Depending on your circumstances, you might find yourself in a similar situation as Megan. Maybe your previously perfect and efficient work routine has changed. Perhaps your “office” is now the back room converted into a makeshift workspace. Now, your most important task is trying to find a balance between parenting and working from home.
It’s okay to admit it. Parenting while working from home is difficult.
While the stress of balancing these responsibilities might feel overwhelming, sometimes a few healthy goals, a dash of perspective, and the creation of new routines can transform your day.
Separating Parenting From Working
Establishing a clear boundary between your parenting and work lifestyle will increase your ability to do both well! Sometimes the simple sight of dirty clothes in the laundry room or dishes in the sink decreases your ability to work from home.
With this in mind, if you don’t have one already, create an office area or personal space to accomplish work from home. Try to maintain an area that helps you mentally and physically separate parenting from your work.
Healthy Suggestions for Balancing Parenting and Working From Home
Most of the time, the first few minutes of our morning dictate the trajectory of our day. Psalm 143:8 says, “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift my soul.” The psalmist understands the power in beginning the morning with the Lord, and you can too!
Experiment with establishing a routine of beginning and ending the day together with your kids.
- Begin the morning with a devotion with you and your kids.
- Before work or activities start, pray with your kids. Pray about the upcoming day and all that the Lord has planned.
- At the end of the day, join together again and reflect on what happened today. Point your kids back to the devotion or to your prayer.
Create a Schedule
Consider your kids’ schedules. Maybe they’re at the age where they can create their own schedule. Or perhaps you still need to guide them in planning their day. Either way, creating a schedule for your kids will help balance parenting and working from home.
One of the best ways to cultivate independence in your kids is to provide choices. In doing so, you might find that they take control of their own schedule!
- Try to plan what your kid enjoys in the morning and afternoon
- Find the times of the day when you work best
- Create independent activities for your kids during your busy times of the day
Setting short and long-term goals can instill discipline in your kids. Help your kids set goals for their own lives by combining what is realistic with what they are interested in.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child up in the way they should go; even when they are old they will not depart from it.” As a parent, you can help guide them down a wise path to achieve their goals. Be sure to check in on them and assist in any way they might need.
Consider the following categories of goals your children could create.
- Brain: Have your kids set a mental goal. Maybe this is learning about a topic they find interesting. Or maybe they create a project or presentation about this topic. This could even consist of completing puzzles, brain teasers, or playing games like chess.
- Body: It’s no secret. Kids need exercise. Set daily goals for exercise. This could be a 15 or 30 minute section of the day you could complete together! Try a quick walk outside or a backyard game together.
- Become: This category could be a hybrid of the previous two or different altogether. This sort of goal is for something your kid wants to become. Maybe they want to learn an instrument or create comic books. For older kids, maybe they want to learn to cook or make short movies. Be intentional with your kids by showing genuine interest in their goals!
Plan Regular Breaks
Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others.” You and your children contain dozens of different interests. Be careful not to ignore your children’s interests during a busy day.
Rather, carve out time for breaks for both you and your kids. And when you add breaks to the schedule, be sure to remind your kids that you will see them on the break, so they do not have to disturb you while you’re working. Here are a few ideas of helpful breaks for you and your kids.
- Nap Time: Be careful with this type of break! For younger kids, this might be an essential part of the day. Even for older kids, nap time could provide a brief rest in the middle of a crazy day. Be sure to use a timer to keep track of your kids and their activities while you work.
- Recess: As mentioned earlier, physical exercise is important for your children’s health. Section off parts of the day to provide recess for your kids. Additionally, working from home could hinder your ability to exercise. So, it might sound silly, but try having recess with your kids too!
- Lunch: Working from home might eliminate business lunches or fast-food excursions. And that’s okay. When working from home, you have brand new lunch buddies waiting in the other room. Share lunch with your kids. This can be a great halfway point in the day to check-in on their schedules and goals.
- Personal: Don’t neglect yourself during your workday. Parenting and working from home can present unexpected stress and excitement. Take time away from your desk to read a chapter of a book, call a friend or your spouse, or even eat that dark chocolate you’ve been saving.
Have a Plan for Interruptions
It’s bound to happen. Balancing parenting and working from home will present the unexpected. And it’s likely in the form of interruptions. Be prepared to face interruptions because chances are…your kids will be involved somehow. Here’s a few ideas!
- Provide a nonverbal signal that you should not be disturbed right now. This could be a special hat or piece of clothing you wear to let your kids know: “Not right now.” Even creating a unique sign to put outside your door could work!
- Value the mute button. No, this doesn’t mean mute your kids. But when you are joining in on a video call or virtual meeting, use the mute button to silence any background noise throughout your home.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to admit you need help. Psalm 121:2 says, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Needing help and helping others are woven into our being. Trust that it is okay to need help!
Parenting and working from home equate to two full-time jobs. So, it’s reasonable that you might need some extra hands. Consider the following approaches!
- Family: Reach out to responsible family members that could spend time with your kids for a day or two. This could be an excellent opportunity for your kids to develop relationships with their grandparents or extended family.
- Friends: Beyond family, you might find a friend that you trust to watch your kids for the day. You might even consider hiring a responsible high school or college student to help out some during the week! For older kids, this could provide an avenue for mentorship that strengthens your ability to parent and work from home.
Through implementing some or all of these strategies, you can develop a healthy home environment! Balancing parenting and working from home might seem daunting. But each day presents an opportunity to display patience and love to your kids.