Working from home is a great way to minimize travel costs, protect your health, and increase your job satisfaction.
However, it can also come with some significant challenges – particularly if you’re a parent. Balancing childcare demands with work responsibilities is difficult, but a few simple tricks can work wonders. Today, Major League Mommy has some suggestions to help you get started on the right path.
Create a Supportive Network
It’s difficult to develop a healthy work/parenting balance. Single mothers, in particular, faced more lost work hours and higher stress as a result of childcare demands. Too many work-from-home parents need a supportive network.
In a two-parent work-from-home household, a spouse can often hand off childcare during important meetings. Extended family members, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles, are sometimes available to be with the child for a few hours during the workday. If that’s not an option, they’ll reach out to friends, neighbors, or parenting support groups. Mutual aid and supportive friendships can be invaluable in maintaining not just work/life balance but sanity.
Working moms know that one of the greatest risks of working from home is the inability to separate home and work life. It’s tempting to make spreadsheets from the rocking chair and answer emails after your child goes to bed, but this constant juggling can lead to burnout and make it more difficult to sleep. The truth is that you’ll have to prioritize time with your child, so you’ll be more energized and efficient when you do take time to work.
If at all possible, it helps to create a fair schedule with your employer and stick to it. If you’ve made yourself valuable, they’ll very likely be happy to meet you halfway. Having a plan in mind when you approach an employer with a flexible schedule proposal will help you negotiate from a position of strength. If they can accommodate your family, you can pay them back with hard work.
One quick way to separate your work and personal life is to have a designated workstation. This can be a dedicated home office or simply a desk. That doesn’t mean the work area is sterile or uncomfortable. A happy home environment is a great way to reduce stress, and if you can successfully integrate work into that same stress-free atmosphere, it’s a win-win. Invest in ergonomic chairs and proper lighting, and limit distractions as much as possible. Also, keep the room declutter and tidy, and consider adding some houseplants to add a little green to your surroundings.
Comfortable clothing is key, too. If you’re a new mother, a soft dress with a nursing panel can help you feel professional while also giving you the freedom to pump or nurse as needed. Soft sweaters, cushioned shoes, and breathable fabrics are essential to quickly transition from cuddling a baby to answering a Zoom call. The key is to find clothes that are physically comfortable while still providing a sense of professional confidence.
Work Alongside Your Child
Many quiet play activities can keep your child occupied and nearby while you work. You can easily create fun distractions that help entertain your little one while refining their motor skills. Toddlers may enjoy coloring, drawing, or looking at books. Babies and toddlers need time to run around and enjoy your undivided attention, but having specified hours of quiet play during the day teaches them patience and independence.
While these strategies can help you stay on track while working from home with young children, they can work just as well for parents going back to school. These days, online programs have made expanding your education far easier and less stressful. For instance, if you’d like to enjoy the benefits of having a degree in business, take a look at this list of options – all of which allow you to learn from home at your own pace.
There’s no doubt that the work/life balance will continue to be a challenge, but the work-from-home movement is growing and it’s here to stay. And remember, your ability to have it all, work and family, will help establish this trend far into the future.