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Your guide to working remotely while the kids are around

By Jana Angeles | 20 March 2020


With only a couple weeks away from school holidays, many parents are making the decision of keeping their kids at home in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak for their own health and safety despite Australian schools remaining open, concerned that they may carry the virus and spread it amongst their elderly relatives. 

Despite the demands that come with parenting, working from home can be a blessing in disguise if you want more flexibility. This means taking charge of your schedule and being strategic in what hours work for you so you can still manage your parenting duties accordingly

If your job has allowed you to work from home in the next couple of weeks, you may find it difficult to balance your work schedule while looking after the kids, so you may be looking for the best tips to keep on top of your workload while you work from home in the meantime. 

So, how do you effectively work from home while having to look after the kids?

  1. Take advantage of those ‘lull’ periods during the day.
  2. Be flexible when it comes to your schedule.
  3. Get your kids to do fun activities to keep them preoccupied.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in order to meet a pressing deadline.

1. Take advantage of those ‘lull’ periods during the day.

woman working from home while child draws

While your kids may be “switched on” all the time, it’s important to know their routine so you’re able to work and be productive while they’re preoccupied. If you have small kids, you can get ahead with your tasks by waking up early and getting work done. You could also take advantage of when they take their afternoon naps. 

If you have slightly older kids, they may be easier to manage as they’ll have access to entertainment such as games, movies and TV. Getting familiar with your kids’ routine can help you plan in advance so you know what time frames to get work done without any disruption

2. Be flexible when it comes to your schedule.

Looking after kids can be tough and with the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to keep watch of their health while you work from home. You may find that when they’re staying home for longer periods of time, they’ll become restless and bored and ask you to entertain them while you need to meet a pressing deadline for work. 

It’s important to be flexible with your schedule and communicate with your boss about your changing priorities in regards to your kids. It’s challenging to balance both parenting and work duties all at once, and sometimes you may need to make up your hours during the night time because you weren’t able to work on anything during the day. 

One of the benefits of working from home is that you can change your schedule to best suit your needs and lifestyle, so if you find that working later works best for you, commit to that. 

It’s also encouraged to have ongoing communication with your team by setting up meetings that fit your schedule. By creating a spreadsheet that outlines your availability for virtual meetings with your boss, this can help you plan ahead when you need to collaborate with your colleagues. 

FlexJobs career development manager Brie Reynolds says, “You should come together and talk about what’s going to work best for everyone. This might mean more frequent, but casual meetings, or it might mean fewer meetings altogether.”

3. Get your kids to do fun activities to keep them preoccupied.

children putting together puzzle pieces

Getting your kids to partake in activities that help them keep active can be a good way to help you tend to your duties as an employee or freelancer at home. 

Instead of binge-watching the latest animated children’s series on Netflix, you could encourage your children to play board games or puzzles instead or if they have an extensive collection of LEGO at hand, encourage them to use their hands and build something that helps run their imagination wild

You could also get them to exercise indoors (if it’s safe to do so) by looking up fun, family-friendly exercise videos on YouTube. For example, you can check out this fun cardio workout and get the kids involved. It may be a fun way to join them, especially if you need to take a break from work and need to do some physical activity to keep those energy levels up.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in order to meet a pressing deadline.

It can be overwhelming tending to the duties of a parent so getting help is sometimes necessary, especially if you need to meet a tight deadline for a particular project. Having your partner share the parenting duties could make all the difference. 

Brie Reynolds mentions that she likes to switch shifts with her partner, getting the kids to eat breakfast and looking after them in the morning. Her husband takes over throughout the day so she can work from home uninterrupted. Following this example, communicating with your partner as well as being flexible to any schedule changes can be helpful, especially if there are changing priorities associated with work

If applicable, you could also ask another relative or trusted friend to babysit for a couple of hours to help you work without any disruption.At a time where people are socially isolating themselves during the coronavirus outbreak, it may be difficult to get some support from the grandparents (as elderly people are at high risk if they contract the virus), or loved ones returning from overseas. So, please keep this in mind when making this decision

Embrace the future of flexible working and study online

By knowing what times you’re most productive and being flexible with your schedule, working from home can be what you need to experience a proper work-life balance as opposed to coming into the office and spending a portion of your day commuting, when you could use that time to get really productive when you’re at home.

With a growing number of businesses working from home in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to also be open to opportunities that allow you to grow as a professional without having to change your current schedule dramatically.

Upskilled is an online course provider and you have the choice of studying qualifications in a number of industries. From business to IT, you can complete a qualification in 12 months and improve your skills and knowledge in your specific industry.

Talk to one of their education consultants and see what possibilities online studying can do for your career
 
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