How to Balance Child Care while Working from Home

Dad working from home while watching child.

The Delicate Work-Life Balance of Work from Home Parents

It’s a conundrum faced by many work from home parents. One of the reasons many of us work from home is to be more present for our children, yet children tend to get in the way of work. How do we strike a balance between providing financially for our families, yet being there for our children when they need us. How do we maintain productivity, while taking care of our children? We have some helpful tips on balancing child care while working from home.

Don’t Believe the Influencers

Working from home, either completely or partially, is the new normal, with 58 percent of Americans reporting that they can work from home at least once a week. It’s inevitable that you will come across work from home parents on Instagram, in spotlessly clean homes, with perfectly behaved children and beautifully organized offices. Don’t believe the hype. If you are struggling to keep your head above water while working from home with children, you are certainly not alone. Being a work from home parent can be truly rewarding, but it’s not easy, and it does require creativity, flexibility, and careful planning.

Have a Strategy

Actually, it’s better if you have a few. Be realistic with your expectations, and what’s going to happen when your children are home. Will they stay quiet when you’re in a meeting? Even the most well-behaved kids are, well, kids. They’re going to have wants, needs, and crises that don’t always fit neatly into your work schedule. Here are some strategies you may find effective:

  • Work during naps. The great thing about babies and toddlers is that they sleep a lot. Some even keep a nap schedule until kindergarten! Use this time wisely, focusing on your most intensive tasks, or scheduling meetings during nap time.
  • Plan activities they can do alone. Activity boxes are a godsend for a work from home parent, and you can purchase them or create your own, using different themes to keep it interesting. Have arts and crafts, games, books, and building toys at the ready, so that you can get your children settled doing something that will occupy their minds and free up your time.
  • Shift your mindset on screen time. As parents, most of us try to keep screentime to a minimum. If you had really strict standards before you started working from home, you might want to rethink that attitude. There’s nothing quite like an animated movie or a game on a tablet to hold a child’s attention, so that you can put your attention on something else. Don’t overdo the screentime, but keep it in reserve for when you desperately need some peace and quiet.
  • Build your schedule around theirs. Maybe this means doing shift work, planning your schedule around when the kids are sleeping or at school. It could also mean planning to work not only during school hours, but in the waiting room at doctor’s appointments, on the soccer field, at the dance studio, or while your child has a music lesson. The secret to successfully working from home is to remain creative and flexible.
  • Let some things go. If your kids load the dishwasher and put away their laundry while you’re working, you can be sure it’s not going to be done perfectly. That’s ok! Ease up on your expectations of a clean house, and on the demands you put on yourself, letting others take over some tasks, even if they don’t do them as well as you would. Take a look at your extracurricular schedule, too. When parents work from home, people often put extra demands on them to volunteer or take on little tasks. Learn how to say no, and that being a good parent doesn’t necessarily mean being at the school every time a volunteer opportunity arises.
  • Be present. Try to limit the amount of time you spend multi-tasking. If you’re with your kids, be with your kids. If you’re working, make it clear that you’re working. Focus on what you are doing, be present in the moment, and you’ll find that you feel a lot less stressed and pulled in different directions.

Get Some Help

There’s no rule that says work from home parents have to go it alone. If your children are preschool age, consider a mother’s morning out program, to give you a day or two of dedicated work time each week. You might also be able to find a neighborhood tween who’d like to act as “mother’s helper,” playing with your children after school for a reasonable fee. If your children are a little older, arrange playdates. Ideally, look for other work at home parents who are interested in working out some sort of cooperative routine, swapping childcare responsibility on a regular basis.

Set Boundaries

With babies, there’s not much you can do. With older kids, though, you can teach them to leave you alone while you’re working. This requires some patience on your part and practice on theirs, and you also need to be careful not to be working so much that they feel they never have your attention. Work out a signal that means “do not disturb,” but also let them know when it’s ok for them to come and hang out with you while you work.

Take Breaks

When you work from home, it’s tempting to work all the time, but it’s not good for your family life or your mental and physical health. Set hours for work, and be firm about the hours you’re not working. Occasionally, take a mental health day, to relax with your family or practice some self-care.

Center for Vasectomy Loves Helping Parents

We hope these tips helped you get a handle on how to find work-life balance while you’re working from home. At the Center for Vasectomy Reversal, we love helping people grow their families. We pride ourselves on helping men improve their fertility through uncompromising, concierge-level patient care. Under the direction of Dr. Joshua Green, our team provides state-of-the-art treatment for men who need a reversal of their vasectomy or have other fertility concerns. To learn more, contact us through our website or call 941-894-6428.