This year has not gone according to plan. We’re stuck inside, many of our kids are learning remotely, and many parents are working remotely – at the same time! Few of us have ever been in this kind of scenario. We’re in uncharted waters, trying to make the best of it.
The most challenging part for many remote-working parents about having the kids at home is failing to be present. For some families, this is a beautiful time of bonding and quality. But for those who have to log forty-hour work weeks from the house, you can’t be present with them.
Here are five ways to parent well during this time.
Set Expectations with Your Kids
Unless your kids are a little older, they may not understand what “Mom or Dad has to work a full day” means. And you being glued to your laptop or desktop – without explaining why – doesn’t send the best message.
If you haven’t already, sit them down and explain what your workday looks like. Be clear about how long you have to work, what your kids should do while you’re working (whether learning or playing), and when you’ll be done each day. Set clear expectations with them. The clarity will prevent a lot of disappointment.
Take Advantage of Break Times
When you do have free time (at lunch or between meetings), play with them! Ask them how their day is going or what they’re learning. Let them know what you’re working on.
Remember, though taxing, being at home with your kid(s) all day is a precious opportunity that many generations before us have never had. These quick check-ins will go a long way toward making the most of it.
Leave Notes and Messages Around the House
This is a fun little way to remind the kids you love them and are here for them – though you may be locked away in your office for the better part of the day.
Get creative with a whiteboard or blackboard. Leave sticky notes throughout the house. Consider leaving them a task list of fun things to do during the day, instructions for getting their own school work done, or just encouraging love messages.
Set Work Boundaries for Yourself
Sometimes work can require you to log 50, 60, or even 70 hour weeks. And at times, there’s nothing you can do about it. But, if possible, set boundaries for yourself so you can maximize your time with your family.
Consider not starting until 8 am or 9 am to get some quality morning time with them. Try stopping and shutting down at 5 pm – no matter what. Don’t sacrifice your career, but do what you can to free yourself up.
Be a Great Employee
This may seem to counter the other points. But one of the best things you can do right now is model for your kids what hard work (not overwork) looks like. Get your job done, be excellent in meetings (they’re probably overhearing), and treat your coworkers with respect.
Realize that you may be forming habits that will impact the rest of your career. It’s possible remote work isn’t going anywhere. Many companies are going fully remote with the help of virtual mailboxes from http://physicaladdress.com and video conferencing from Zoom.
So form good habits, work hard, and be the best parent you can be during this time.