Working from home with kids

Working from home with kids
Working from home with kids

posted 03 Jan 24

In recent years, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more companies have allowed their employees to work from home. This shift has been beneficial for many, allowing for more flexibility and work-life balance.  

However, working from home can also present its own unique challenges, especially when trying to balance it with parenting responsibilities. It's a juggling act that requires planning, and a whole lot of patience.  

With a few strategies in place, it is possible to make this arrangement work. Here’s our take on how you can work from home with kids. 

Set a routine 

To successfully work from home while also caring for your children, it's crucial to establish a routine that gives your day structure and balances your work tasks and childcare responsibilities. This approach helps in ensuring that neither aspect is overlooked or neglected.  

  1. Prioritise your tasks: Identify your top priorities for the day, both work-related and parenting-related. This will help you focus on what needs to get done and ensure you're dedicating time to these tasks. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day, and don't be too hard on yourself if things don't go as planned. 
  2. Time blocking: One effective strategy to consider is time blocking. This involves dedicating specific hours of the day to focused work, and others to spending time with your children. Block out specific times each day for your most important work tasks. This could be when your children are napping, engaged in remote learning, or occupied with other activities. 
  3. Take breaks together: Plan breaks throughout the day where you can spend quality time with your children. This could be for a meal, a quick game, or outdoor activity. It gives your children something to look forward to and helps to break up your workday. You'll find that this can recharge your energy levels too! 
  4. Plan activities for your kids: Plan engaging, self-guided activities for your children during your work periods. This could include educational apps, crafts, or quiet reading time. Technology can be a lifesaver, there are several educational apps and websites that can keep your kids engaged while you work. Just be sure to monitor their screen time and ensure they're using age-appropriate platforms. 
  5. Stay flexible: Understand that some days might not go according to plan, and that's ok. Be prepared to adapt your schedule as needed, and don’t beat yourself up if things don't pan out as planned. Balancing work and parenting is a challenge and it's important to be kind to yourself throughout this process. 

Top Tip 1:  Get the kids to work with you on the working-from-home routine. Start the day with a “scrum” and get them (if they can) to write up their own routine with you.  This is a great way for them to take some accountability for their day.  It will also ground you to the realities of what you can actually do with their short attention spans. 

Top Tip 2: Agree when game time is as part of your daily scrum.  Get it up on the notice board and stick to it. Get your kids to understand that it’s “game on” at that time, and this is a reward for the time they have given you with your day.  

Don’t feel you always have to be on when working from home! Lot’s of offices have funky breakout areas with table tennis or other sociable games. These are there to help with mental health and wellbeing, why should this be any different at home? Burnout is prevented by the odd session of Loonacy, Exploding Kittens or Throw Throw Burrito. Not all games need to be as involved (or lengthy!) as Monopoly, or Game of Life, so stick to short, speedy games to help with your routine. 

Create a dedicated workspace 

A dedicated workspace can do wonders for your productivity. Whether it's a home office or a corner in your living room, having a space that signals 'work mode' to your family can help minimise interruptions and help you focus better. 

Setting up in an area that is away from daily household distractions is an even better option. If you have a separate room for your workspace, make it clear to your family that this is an off-limits area. Either way, make sure it's as quiet and comfortable as possible! 

Establish boundaries 

One of the biggest challenges of working from home, especially when children are involved, is maintaining boundaries. It's important that your family understands when you are "at work" and when you are available for family activities. Communicating your work hours to your family and asking them to respect this time can help reduce interruptions.  

Additionally, teaching children to respect your workspace is pivotal. Make it clear that your work area is not a play area, and set rules for when and how they can interact with you while you are working. With clear boundaries and expectations, balancing remote work and family life can be a manageable task. 

Communicate with your employer 

Communicate with your employer 

It's important to communicate with your employer about your responsibilities as a parent. They may be able to offer more flexible working hours or provide additional support during this time. Open and honest communication is key in finding a balance that works for both parties. Additionally, don't be afraid to ask for help when needed. Your employer may be able to offer resources or advice on how to manage your workload and family responsibilities. 

Don’t panic about any interruptions! 

Throughout the pandemic, we got an insight into our colleague's homes, normalising some of the interruptions that come with family life. Although it's important to minimise distractions as much as possible, not all of them are avoidable. 

For example, the family that captured hearts around the world when 2 kids disrupted a TV interview.  Watched over 36milliion times, this adorable clip is the reality of working from home with kids. Ellen dissected the “Kid-Interrupted” video on her show and shared some pretty good tips. Our top tip is don’t panic if a call or a meeting is interrupted, we’re all human! 

Ultimately, working from home with kids is all about finding what works best for you and your family. It might take some trial and error, but with time, patience, and a little bit of creativity, you'll find that it's entirely possible to strike a balance between being a dedicated parent and a productive employee. Although, we hope you don't become a meme in the process! 


About the author

Fiona is an Associate Director within our Call and Contact Centre specialism and is based in Edinburgh. She is a mummy to Bella, 8 and Max, 4, so she knows exactly what it’s like working from home with kids in tow. If you are looking to add to your team or looking for work, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.