Working from home is great. You can set your own schedule, avoid the long and time-consuming commutes, and cut down on childcare costs. You don’t have to miss out on so much family time, either. In practice, however, working from home can be a little messier and a lot less relaxing. It’s not that the bonuses aren’t there. It’s that the bonuses come accompanied by a whole new set of challenges – especially if you are working remotely while also caring for a baby or a younger child. In consequence, you may feel you’re doing a less-than-stellar job both as an employee and as a parent. So here are some handy tips to help you enjoy the bonuses of remote work while not letting the challenges get you down.
Have a dedicated workspace.
Your work will be a lot easier if you have everything you need in one space and keep that space free exclusively for work-related tasks. Ideally, you will be able to set aside a whole room as a home office, but if that’s not possible, choose a corner of a room and try to create some boundaries between it and the rest of the house, using furniture or a foldable screen. Choose an area where you will easily be able to plug in any devices you need to keep your remote work comfortable and convenient.
Before you even begin trying to balance your remote work with your family obligations, in the same space, get that space in order. Tidy up your work area as well as your family areas, declutter as much as possible, and make sure you know where to find anything you need, whether it’s a file folder or a baby binkie. Having an organized and tidy space will make all your tasks a lot easier. It will also be better for your overall clarity and mental wellness.
Set a schedule.
Part of being well-organized entails having a clear schedule. Mark out any events or deadlines that are non-negotiable, including obligations related to work as well as to family. Also remind yourself to do things that will allow you to stay on schedule more easily, such as communicating with co-workers in advance of a meeting, prepping food for meals, or arranging with childcare providers in advance.
Hopefully, you are already at ease using the various apps, programs, and tools that can help you increase your efficiency without loss of time or mental energy. Scheduling apps, virtual meeting platforms, and communication tools will all make your work easier.
Find a childcare provider.
Even if you’re looking forward to spending less on childcare, you may still want to hire some help from time to time, especially if you are running behind on a deadline or have an important meeting that demands your full attention. When hiring a childcare provider make sure they come with good references and all necessary training. Talk to them about your situation so they are clear on your needs.
Hire a virtual assistant.
If you need a little help with administrative duties such as answering phones, responding to emails, or managing your social media, you can find professional freelancers offering virtual assistant services online.
Take breaks for self-care.
When you are in the groove of being highly motivated, organized, and efficient, meeting all your goals on time, it can be easy for you to forget that it’s not only okay but necessary to take some time off just for yourself. If you don’t take breaks, both mentally and physically, you risk getting burned out. If you have recently given birth, check out the products at Ice Ice Booby that can help you manage pain or discomfort postpartum, at home.
Finally, accept the reality that some lines will be blurred. Sometimes you may find yourself responding to important emails at the dinner table or trying to keep your toddler entertained in your home office. It’s okay if everything doesn’t work out as perfectly in reality as you had planned. Don’t be hard on yourself, but do try to get back on schedule as soon as possible, for your own sake.
Written by Janice Russell from Parenting Disasters.