How do you work from home, with purpose, especially when you’re a parent? It’s all about having a schedule — and that schedule most likely won’t be the same as when you would normally hit the office Monday through Friday. It’s time to think outside the box!
It may take some time, but finding what type of schedule works best for you helps ensure your days run more smoothly…and less like you’re jumping from task to task so much that you don’t know where your brain is at.
My “typical” schedule: Daytime work
Normally, when school is in session, my workday starts right after walking my daughter to the bus stop and ends when I head back to the bus stop in the afternoon — with sporadic chunks of work time in the evening if necessary, or after her bedtime.
With my work for Hay There Social Media, I can take some “time off” during the week if there’s something that comes up during the day — like half days, sick days, or grocery shopping — and instead do chunks of my writing until 2 a.m. or on the weekends.
*My summer — or “pandemic” — schedule: Early morning and night work*
Summer, however, is an entirely different scenario, because I can’t work non-stop when my daughter has no school. (Kind of like during a pandemic, when school is cancelled.) And, as a single mom, I am solely responsible when my daughter is with me.
I want to be present with my daughter, so I have to tweak my work schedule to allow for full work + life integration. That means having specific times we both know I’ll be working — and she can trust that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, my daytime hours are open for her: For playdates, beach days, bike rides, etc.
In general, my summer (or non-school) work schedule is:
- Monday through Friday — 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
If we’re not at the beach or park all day, I’ll work while my daughter has lunch or is playing in the yard or having screen time — but I know, in my head, the hours I need to be working each day. And if I need to make time, I’ll shuffle work to the weekend mornings or late nights — or double up on work on the days I don’t have my daughter with me.
The “hour on, hour off” schedule
Maybe for you, doing work for a big chunk in the morning and in the evening won’t work. Maybe you need to do more work during the day. But how, when the kids are around? Sure, you can mutli-task…but you can’t multi-focus. And kids feel that. So do you.
If you can get a few hours of work in before the kids are up and moving for the day, you can try to engage with them for an hour on, hour off throughout the day. Smaller spurts of work mean you can focus on the work task at hand, and fully devote your time to your kids after — and they know that your attention is on them (and will be again after another hour).
Some days that just may not work, though — and it’s OK!
What if you HAVE to be working from 9-5?
If you have a job that requires you to be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. even while working remotely, here are some things to try to work productively while the kids are home.
- Group like tasks together: Working in batches of similar tasks helps keep you focused to effectively complete those tasks. It can be tiring to switch gears and do work that requires you to reset your focus completely. We all know about “getting in the groove.” So if you’re in it, stay there.
- Take breaks: Imagine the times at the office when you complete a task, and take a walk to the water cooler or a coworker’s desk to clear your head. That time can be kid time when you’re at home. Enjoy an activity together for a reset!
- Work longer days: If it works better for your home schedule, talk to your supervisors about working longer days to free up time other days with your kids.
Making working from home work
Remember, working from home isn’t always the same as flexible work. In order to not feel like you are treading water barely staying afloat, try new ways until you hit your groove — and be patient with yourself while you’re getting there. Because you will.
We’re here if you want to talk about how we can make this work for you!