Finding the Parenting / Working Balance

As disturbing as 2020 was, working from home while quarantined was a godsend for many working parents.  Others had a daunting situation where focus on work was impossible amidst  the cries of their young child or children.  The 24 hour job of child rearing doesn’t easily rearrange itself between workday demands.  A year later, work from home has evolved. Even if you have figured out your arrangement, we think refresher tips may help maintain the parenting / working balance. 

Finding the Parenting/Working balance

Separate Your Roles

Until you can separate your business role from parental role, you won’t be able to give either your full concentration.  Setting up a separate work area is the first step to focus on business.  When you are in this area, stick to work projects. When you are in the rest of the house, you are “home” and in your “mom or dad” role. Having a door to close, even on a closet sized space, helps work focus.  There are less visible distractions like laundry and dirty dishes etc.  Close the door behind you when you exit the area.  You’ll have less guilt every time you go past and see the work still on your desk.

Organize & Follow a Schedule

Chances are, you set up a schedule when you first began working from home.  In spite of that schedule, when your toddler runs into your work area crying, it’s hard to dry tears AND still clear those emails.  It’s okay to revise your work schedule, especially if you made it during a fit of parental optimism.  Modify it for more realistic work periods around your child’s routine. 

Just make sure your employer agrees on your availability for calls, zoom conferences and hours logged.  If your work is based on production instead of hours, make sure you give yourself time to achieve all that needs to be done.

Think about using a family organizer app, like Cozi, Google, OurHome, or Trello to coordinate the household.  Use organizers to hold everything from chores, grocery lists and work reminders in color coded glory. Apps may work better than the fridge calendars because you can sync across several devices making an app organizer easy to take anywhere. your toddler’s mealtime and naptime on time.  Whether you’re preparing a bottle of Sammy’s Milk formula or a full meal, keep to the normal schedule to avoid hunger interruptions.  The formula makes sure your toddler gets the nutrition they need in a quick prep, easy to digest beverage.  It makes an easy-peasy lunch break.  Keeping nap time on schedule means you keep work quiet time on the same schedule. 

Use every minute of Naptime

Developing a naptime routine for your child will yield results for you too now that you’re working from home.  Naptime routine allows you to estimate time available to organize and focus on work assignments.  If your tot isn’t tired enough to nap, develop quiet time, putting him or her into the crib with books and close the door.  It could give you phone time.  If you hear fussing before finishing a call, try to avoid hanging up immediately.  Keeping to the schedule will reinforce your quiet time and the few minutes difference won’t hurt your child.

Plan for Interruptions

Even the best organized schedule will suffer interruptions.  A suddenly starving toddler or cries for help setting up a Dora video is bound to disrupt an important call at some point.  Avoid making apologies and hit the mute button during cries for “Mommmeee!”  Create a nonverbal sign to be quiet during a do not disturb time.  One mom used a red ribbon on the door handle, another wore a tiara while she worked.  The ribbon might be a better way to handle, since the tiara on a zoom call might give the wrong impression.

Offer Entertainment Options

Set aside a few cool toys for kids to play with during do not disturb hours or arrange playdates or special movie to run during work time.  If children have something special arranged that they can look forward to, they will be less likely to interrupt.

Get Help

Getting help for the days you need it, may be worth the extra cost.  You may know a responsible high-school teen who is more affordable than day-care.  Your child may actually enjoy the change and having a teen pay attention to them and feed them snacks etc.  Don’t forget your partner may be another source of support.  Get the support you need by taking your turn at providing playdates or covering for your partner when he or she needs a break.

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