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Trying to work from home (WFH) is like riding a unicycle. Working from home while parenting is like riding a unicycle while balancing 10 books on your head, carving an ice sculpture and reciting the first 13 numbers of Pi — backward. If you’re juggling meetings, projects and calls with naptime, snack time, and the occasional mooing/neighing/bleating/barking from one of these things, congratulations — you’re in the major leagues.
Luckily, I have an incredible network of parents at my company who have kindly compiled their tips for WFH while parenting below. Take a look and get ready to make working from home, winning from home.
Communicate with your team
Yes, you may hear Baby Shark in the background. No, we’re not listening for pleasure.
As with any productive workday, communicating with your coworkers is vital. Share your WFH parenting situation with your team, and give them a heads up that they may hear some crazy clatter in the background of your Zoom calls. Chances are you won’t be the only one juggling a big workload with a small child — so give yourself some grace, and remember we’re all doing our best.
Schedule movie and TV time
Have a Zoom meeting coming up? Schedule your child’s screen time around your own!
If you know you’ll need to keep the distractions to a minimum during an important virtual meeting or call — or if you just need a few minutes to focus without interruption — pop on the latest episode of PAW Patrol and scoot to another room. You’ll get a few minutes of quiet without worrying about something like this:
If the allure of TV doesn’t last and someone does wander in during your meeting, don’t panic — assuming you’ve already communicated your situation with your team, they’ll know what you’re handling and understand that sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches.
Don’t be afraid to break up your schedule
In some cases, taking shifts with your partner or others in the household may be the best strategy to make it work.
Communicate proactively with your team to align on when availability matters most, and consider breaking up your eight-hour day into two-hour or four-hour segments across the day. Don’t forget to set a status in Slack (or whatever your company’s messaging app might be) and let your teammates know when you’re signing off.
In this new environment, over-communication is key!
Other tips ‘n’ tricks from WFH parents
Ever tried taking a video conference call with a toddler in your arms? If so, I feel you. To find balance in WFH life, I like to play “work” with my daughter. I give her an old iPad and she will “type like mommy” for at least an hour! Plus, she gets to practice letters and words.
To help make your WFH moments a little easier, try incorporating these other tips ‘n’ tricks from some of my fellow co-workers.
- “Disney+ is free for a year if you sign up through Verizon! I highly recommend Moana.” – Rachel Malone-Olsen
- “These two great Instagram accounts are constantly full of good ideas to entertain kids at home (focusing mainly on preschooler age): @BusyToddler and @DayswithGrey.” – Hallie Cornetta
- “PBS has a great parents’ newsletter with ideas for fun, educational activities that your kids can enjoy at home.” – Josh Tarr
- “Check out Adventure Academy! It’s an interactive multi-player online eduction game for kids ages 6 and over. It’s one-of-a-kind, and was made by the same company that built ABC Mouse.” – Ben Carter
- “I used to have to take my kids to the office sometimes to get work done on weekends. I took old worn-out briefcases of mine (yes, I carried one of those things — it was a long time ago) and filled it with things they never got to play with except when I took them to work. We pretended they were “working” too so they had puzzles, legal pads like Mom’s, grown-up pens, dry-erase boards, etc. I also would give them jobs like cleaning out/reorganizing my desk drawers (and they were always delighted to find treats like gum or candy, or a trinket they could borrow and put in their briefcase for next time). And at the end of the workday, I would pay them for their work — usually quarters or something like that. They loved it!” – Shannon McFayden
- “My daughter was a big fan of Cool Math! It’s a site that teaches first- to eighth-grade math by making it fun. As long as she had a snack and her tablet she could stay on this site for hours!” – Vickki Trujillo
Do you have any tips and tricks to share that might help so many of us that have to handle a new WFH reality? Reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter and be sure to stay connected to our Resource Center.