1. Have a Flexible Routine
You must keep the structure of the day relatively similar to what it has always been. Keeping to a regular schedule gives you points to work from when it comes to childcare and staying motivated to work. Keeping to set mealtimes and bedtimes reduces disruptions in the natural rhythm of your family, meaning people are still as productive as they were before – hopefully.
There will be times when you need to modify your schedules, such as for a holiday or in-service day, so keep things as flexible as you can. Set aside blocks of free time in your calendar, so you have room to move things around if you need it.
2. Use Time Blocks
It isn’t easy to work from home and be a parent. You can make things work by being a bit more experimental. Put together a schedule at the end of the week and take into account what family members will be up to. Consider putting together a Google Calendar for the family where everyone can see what they should be doing at any given time.
Once you have the basics in place, you can use time-blocks based on individual preferences, childcare times, and project deadlines. If you feel productive during the morning or have a lot of morning meetings, then work an 8 am – 12-noon “shift” while your partner looks after the kids. Switch things over in the afternoon so your partner can work while you watch the kids. Don’t be afraid to experiment even further with a half-hour or 1-hour time blocks. Find something that suits your schedule and needs.
3. Make Parts of the Calendar Non-Negotiable
Some things in your calendar will be non-negotiable essential things, such as spending time with your family. Set aside an hour each week to have dinner together. When it comes to work-related tasks, aim to avoid having more than three priorities per day. Keep in mind that you can’t do everything in a day and should break things up.
The only way to be productive is to carefully schedule and prioritize work so that it all gets done. Talk to your family and team members about non-negotiables so they can work around you and support you.
4. Keep Your Roles Separate
One of the critical challenges of being an at-home working parent is keeping your work, and home lives separate. Things can get blended together. It’s easy to keep work and home separate if you work in an office, but not so much when your home is the office.
One way to keep things separate is to have a dedicated working space in your home. Keep the area different from the rest of the family by using a basement, spare bedroom, or another room people don’t use much. You can even turn a shed into an incredible home office if you have the time and patience. It also helps to have a transitioning ritual, such as turning your computer off at the end of the day or changing your clothes. This ritual tells your brain it’s time to stop working and start being a regular human, and vice versa.
5. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
Even seasoned working from home pros slip up here and there and face challenges. Don’t beat yourself up if you start to fall behind. Take stock of where you are and where you want to go from here. The situation is temporary, and you will adjust. Keep the faith, and good luck!