Working from Home with Children: The EARL Guide for Parents

In an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus (“Coronavirus”), the government of Trinidad and Tobago and companies alike are implementing strict ‘social distancing’ policies. For many, this means working from home or ‘telecommuting’. With the closure of both primary, secondary and tertiary schools, a new challenge arises for parents balancing the demands of both worlds: parenthood and work. To help you navigate the dynamics of working from home with children, Eve Anderson Recruitment has created this comprehensive guide written by parents, for parents.

Utilize Your Support Network

Whether it be your partner, grandparents, family friends or even your co-worker, working together with your community can help to mitigate many of the challenges of parenting while working. Alternate shifts with your partner, allowing for uninterrupted work time while still tending to the needs of your children. For single parent households, a similar system can be developed with a close family friend or even a colleague in the same position as you.

Work with A (Strict) Schedule

Replicating the schedule of a normal school day can help maintain order between your two worlds. By doing so, not only can children keep up with their school’s curriculum, but parents are given windows of time to focus on their work. Alternatively, a schedule different to a normal school day may be necessary, given the circumstances. However, it remains essential to establish a routine early and stick to it. Capitalizing on periods of time when children are doing homework, focused on an activity, or even having lunch ensures parents can stay productive and meet the demands of their job. The aim in establishing your new schedule is to work smarter, not harder. This may require you to adapt to the needs of your children, more than you usually would. Most of all, always plan and prepare for the unexpected

Create Boundaries with Children

Your children may view your increased presence at home as a treat as well as an opportunity to enlist a new playmate. However, it may be helpful when establishing boundaries to remind children these are a special set of circumstances. For those designated periods of “work time” that cannot be interrupted, experts recommend establishing nonverbal “Do Not Disturb” indicators, such as a closed door. Enforcing that children must respect these allocated spaces and periods of time prevents interruptions during important conference or client calls. In some instances, allowing children to self soothe during activities that cannot be interrupted could be beneficial to their long-term behavioural growth.

Create A Private Space Where You Can Work Uninterrupted

In addition to social boundaries, physical boundaries between parenthood and work can be helpful. Establishing a home office or workspace not only serves as a barrier to interruptions, but also between the demands of both worlds. Mentally, it affords parents the opportunity to give their full attention to work tasks when in this designated space. Outside of this space, the demands of the household take priority. The key is to separate your roles as parent and employee in order to give your full attention to each for a set amount of time.
For toddlers and infants especially, some parents recommend spending quality time with your younger children prior to undertaking an important or time-consuming task. Often, it allows for more productive and undistracted work hours. Playing with (and tiring out) children before their lunchtime, for example, simultaneously wears them out while giving the adult time to recharge.

Quality Time

For toddlers and infants especially, some parents recommend spending quality time with your younger children prior to undertaking an important or time-consuming task. Often, it allows for more productive and undistracted work hours. Playing with (and tiring out) children before their lunchtime, for example, simultaneously wears them out while giving the adult time to recharge.

Communicate Actively with Your Co-Workers and Employees

The silver lining of social distancing measures becoming more prevalent is that you’re not alone. People around the world, as well as in your community, are facing the same challenges as you and are trying to adjust to such. Be sure to maintain active contact with your colleagues, especially as you juggle the needs of your children with work. Studies have shown that open dialogue with co-workers fosters a sense of trust and understanding between teams, as an asset during times of crisis. Open communication also allows for realistic expectations to be set as we all try to adjust to new routines and obstacles.

Set a Tone of Understanding and Empathy

Just as you’re adjusting to a new routine, so are your children. Explaining to your children the current circumstances and why there are additional limitations can lead to more cooperative behaviour. Emphasize that their new schedule and precautions are with the intended to look out for your community. Create a narrative where they understand that their actions and cooperation are for the greater good of their community (especially extended family and friends). Moreover, know children can be sensitive to the moods of adults around them. Your anxieties and worries surrounding COVID-19 may be mirrored by them and manifest in more disruptive behaviour. Be sure to tend to the emotional needs of both children, and yourself.

References

Bahney, Anna. “How to work from home with kids (without losing it).” CNN Business, 17 March 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/16/success/working-from-home-with-kids-coronavirus/index.html.

Connley, Courtney. “5 tips for effectively working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, when you have kids.” CNBC, 16 March 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/how-to-work-from-home-with-your-kids-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html.

Experienced Parents at Eve Anderson Recruitment Ltd. Personal interview. 18-19 March 2020.

Foster, Brooke Lea. “How to Master Working From Home – While Under Quarantine With Kids.” Parents, 12 March 2020, https://www.parents.com/parenting/work/life-balance/how-to-master-being-a-work-at-home-mom/.

Graham, Jennifer. “Coronavirus: How to work from home with children and pets without losing your cool or your sanity.” Deseret News, 15 March 2020, https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2020/3/15/21176465/coronavirus-covid-19-working-from-home-schools-pets-pandemic.

Pullman, Joy. “14 Strategies For Working From Home Around Children Without Endless Screen Time.” The Federalist, 16 March 2020, https://thefederalist.com/2020/03/16/14-strategies-for-working-from-home-around-children-without-endless-screen-time/.

Thompson, Michael. “5 tips to help you stay productive when working from home with young kids during coronavirus, from a dad who’s done it.” Entrepreneurs Handbook by Medium via Business Insider, 17 March 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-work-from-home-with-young-children-during-coronavirus-2020-3.