Guide to Working from Home with Kids on Summer Break - Working in the Wild with Hub:868 Issue No. 08
We know that while working from home it can be difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance, but it becomes even more difficult when you have kids at home as well. Many of us dealt with this during the pandemic but now that the kids are back in school and some of us have been able to return to the office, we’ve found a little more ease in the situation. It won’t be long, however, before the kids are home again and this time they won’t have remote school to keep them occupied (if that even worked for you). Many parents deal with childcare needs over the summer while they are in the office, but so many companies have chosen to keep employees remote - which we cheered for - but now we are faced with the reality of a very difficult situation - how to give the kids a summer they'll remember while not falling behind professionally.
Maybe you worked out all the kinks during the pandemic and you aren’t worried about summer break at all. Good for you! As for the rest of us, we need HELP! Working from home with kids comes with many challenges and those have not gone away with the dissipating pandemic. A Stateline analysis of aJanuary 2022 U.S. Census Bureau poll found:
- between 6% and 14% of parents of children ages 5-11 were not working because they had to care for children not in school or daycare
Parents of small children have left the workforce in much higher numbers than other working adults during the pandemic.
- 6% fewer jobs were held by parents of children ages 5-12, both mothers and fathers, in fourth quarter 2021 compared with the same period in 2019
- 1% fewer jobs were held by other prime-age workers between fourth quarter 2021 and fourth quarter 2019
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, Stateline analysis
Parents are struggling out here. As a parent, the work/life balance is even harder to maintain when the children need attention throughout the day and you have a job to do and don’t forget all the household responsibilities and maybe your boss expects you to be available during non-work hours and it’s all too much! Working from home while your kids are also home is never going to be perfect. But we’ve got some tips to help mitigate the potential disasters and help you maintain sanity while you do your best to do it all. However, if working from home is just not working for you, consider utilizing a coworking space so you can get your work done distraction-free. Hub:868 has a variety of memberships to meet your needs. Give yourself the opportunity to do your best work this summer with our Summer Flex Pass!
Dedicate Work Space
If you have the space, dedicate an office, closet, or corner of a room to be your workspace. Having a door you can close will help children and caregivers understand when you are working and should not be disturbed. You can even put an open/closed sign on the door to let them know when interruptions will be tolerated. If you don’t have a space with a door, consider another signaler on your desk to help children visualize when you are available for questions and concerns. A stop sign you attach to the back of your laptop or chair may be helpful or having the lamp on/off on your desk. If your children are too young to be out of sight, you could create a workspace for them in the same area. Fill their workspace with quiet toys and activities and let them “work” right alongside you.
Are your neighbors also working from home with kids? Trade hours with them taking turns with childcare and focused work. If you don’t have that type of relationship with your neighbors, consider local friends or family that also work from home with kids. You can create a rotating schedule with more than one family. Or, try a nanny-share where they come to your house a few days and your friend’s or neighbor’s the rest of the week. Nannies often want full-time work so this can increase your odds of finding someone to work with you.
Establish Ground Rules
Kids who are used to your undivided attention while you are home might have a difficult time transitioning to your work from home lifestyle. Establish rules about what this is going to look like for each of you. Be reasonable with your expectations, children are not going to entertain themselves for
hours on end. Your little ones might need some practice and lots of reminders on what is and is not acceptable while you are working.
Make a Schedule
A simple schedule that everyone is aware of can help immensely. Summer break can feel like an endless weekend if we aren’t careful. Start by getting yourself and have the kids dress and prepare for the day as if you were going to the office and they were going to school. This helps the kids understand that it is a work day and they will need to act accordingly. Next, schedule your breaks to include the kids. Take them for a walk during your morning break or draw with them during your afternoon break - any type of connection activity will help. Let them know what time you’ll be having your lunch together and stick to that schedule. If you have toddlers, you might need to schedule your busiest work activities and Zoom meetings during nap time so you know you won’t be interrupted. If you have older children, consider scheduling play dates or hang-out time with their friends during your work hours. If they have a playmate they can entertain each other and not have so many requests for you.
Don’t forget that it is okay for kids to feel bored! Aside from our youngest ones, kids are capable of entertaining themselves even without screens. They really develop their creativity in those boring moments. You can also create a list of work they need to accomplish while you are busy. Let the kids help you with the household chores, even if they aren’t done perfectly, it will provide an activity for them and take a task or two off your plate. If they have summer reading or other academic prep for next year, you can put that on their schedule. Another great way to foster independence is to create a snack basket, maybe even one for each child, and put the snacks you are willing to allow them to eat for the day in and let them know if they become hungry to choose something from the basket. It will help to eliminate the constant “What can I eat?” interruptions.
This is absolutely critical. You need to have clear, open communication with not only the children but your employer, coworkers, spouse, and any sitters you choose to employ. Let your supervisor know your kids will be home with you for the summer and that it could pose problems. If your spouse is also working from home, discuss your schedules and who will be handling interruptions at which hours. If you are a manager with employees working from home, be flexible and understanding and communicate your needs clearly so your employees can effectively manage their time.
Have a Backup Plan
You can utilize every single one of these tips and still have a child screaming during your Zoom call. Kids are unpredictable and you may find that yours isn’t quite mature enough to entertain themselves as you expected or they are creating chaos all day while not bothering you, making your evening more stressful than you’d like. Have a plan for when everything falls apart. That could be as simple as taking your laptop to the park or library so you can work while they play. Or, consider having "emergency" activities, games, or a surprise movie to fill in the gaps. Maybe you need to hire a sitter for a few hours a day or use that camp that you tentatively signed up for. Be sure to prepare for this ahead of time, even if it means losing a deposit because space fills quickly, sitters get snatched up before the break begins and you don’t want to be stuck in a miserable situation for the entire summer.
If you know that working from home is not going to work for you, Hub:868 has a variety of memberships to meet your needs. Give yourself the opportunity to do your best work this summer with our Summer Flex Pass! Valid June 1st 2022 through August 30th 2022, with 12 flexible work days each month in June, July and August at Hub:868 for just $399 (that's a savings of over $50/month!).