Fitting work around caring for small children can be a tough challenge if you’re all under the same roof. You might have it all worked out in theory, but trying to stick to a strict routine is near impossible when other caring responsibilities come into play. As adorable and delightful as little ones are, they also require a lot of your time, which doesn’t exactly make for an optimum work environment. Luckily it doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster.
Here are some tips to make working around childcare more manageable
Set Realistic Goals
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not being a ‘perfect parent’ or not performing at your best work-wise (you’re essentially doing two jobs simultaneously, like trying to spin plates while riding a unicycle!). Set manageable goals, and any small achievements should be hugely celebrated! Have a list of things to do in order of priority and try and focus on getting the top ones done. The less stressed out you are, the happier you’ll be and so will your little ones!
Have a Routine (But Make Exceptions)
Juggling work and childcare is always going to be a bumpy ride. Having some sort of a routine can give your day some structure and make you more productive. Work out what time of the day your brain functions the best and gear your working hours around that– if you’re a morning person, set your alarm extra early and try and get the bulk of your work done before the kids are awake. The same applies if you work better in the evenings.
Be Prepared To Be Flexible
If you don’t want to be shut away from your children all day, try working in 45-minute bursts with a 15-minute break to check in with them or fix them a snack. But don’t feel like a failure if your schedule doesn’t work out as planned. If you have an urgent deadline to meet, or household tasks to tackle, parking your children in front of the TV on the odd afternoon isn’t going to ruin their lives forever!
Communicate & Don’t be Afraid to Ask For Help!
Whether it’s your boss or your partner – or even the children themselves, being honest with everyone is important to manage their expectations. Make sure your boss knows your situation (they might be in a similar one themselves) and don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for help or to delegate. Coordinate with your partner, perhaps doing childcare in ‘shifts’ so they can take over if you’re on a conference call, or vice-versa.
Set Boundaries With Your Children (If They're Old Enough)
Making sure your children know what the boundaries are means you’re less likely to end up snapping at them. Make it clear they should not disturb you while you’re working – and try to be consistent with this. Having a planned routine to their day (maybe doing a family activity in the afternoon) might be a good incentive for them to be patient and amuse themselves while you’re working.