The prospect of working from home holds a special allure for parents. It’s a setup that can fulfill their desire to be present for their children’s precious moments while maintaining a rewarding career. At the same time, getting hired for work from home jobs saves parents from the hassle of commuting, especially if they live in highly congested areas or far away from their employer’s dedicated workspace.
However, any parent who’s working remotely for the first time must know that this setup also comes with its own tradeoffs. You’d need to be aware of what remote work entails so that you can adjust quickly and keep up with your personal and professional responsibilities.
If you’re a first-time stay-at-home parent, here are some of the things you should expect from the “WFH” life:
1) The Challenges of Attaining Work-Life Balance Can Get More Pronounced
As you embark on your work-from-home parenting journey, one challenge you should already expect is that of balancing your professional and family life. Indeed, it will be difficult to juggle these responsibilities when you’re trying to do both in the same space.
That means it’s crucial to establish clear boundaries and routines to ensure that you allocate enough time for both your work and your parenting duties. Creating a structured schedule can help you find equilibrium, which will allow you to be present for your children while still fulfilling your work obligations.
2) It’s Necessary to Maintain Flexible Hours to Meet Your Child’s Needs
For many working parents, taking on a remote position also means being their child’s main caretaker during the day. As you already know, caring for a child is a demanding and time-consuming activity. Sometimes you’ll need to make special adjustments to your work schedule to accommodate your child’s needs.
For instance, you might need to take a short break from your work to attend to your child’s meals or educational activities. The same goes for when your child gets sick. While the flexibility afforded by remote work can be an advantage, it also requires effective time management on your part to ensure that you meet your work commitments without compromising your parenting role.
3) Multitasking Is a Must to Balance Work and Parenting Simultaneously
There will also be times when you’ll have to attend to both work and parenting at the same time. For example, you might need to attend a meeting while pacifying a disgruntled child, or you might have to accept home deliveries while in the middle of a task.
You’ll need to master the art of multitasking to be able to overcome these challenges. It’s also best if you can anticipate days when you need to pay attention to several things at the same time, and to be open with your bosses in advance about what you need to attend to. If it’s possible, arrange to have someone help you on days that you’ll need extra support. Making advanced preparations for demanding days will enable you to successfully navigate the dynamic requirements of both your personal and career roles.
4) You Should Know Your Way Around Productivity Tools to Get Work Done
To succeed as a remote worker, you’ll also need to develop a high level of proficiency in the tools that you use to do your job. Expect to use tools like video conferencing programs and task management platforms to stay connected with colleagues and supervisors.
The best thing to do during the first couple of weeks at your remote job (or even earlier, if possible) is to learn how to navigate these technologies with ease. That will make it easier to slide into your new responsibilities with confidence. You’ll also have a better idea of how these tools fit into both your workflow and your day-to-day duties as a parent.
5) You’ll Need to Set Up a Home Office That’s Conducive to Productivity
Part of setting personal and professional boundaries as a remote worker entails dedicating a space in your home for work. Many people find that having a dedicated workspace at home aids their productivity and helps them get into the mindset of a professional in a domestic environment.
For the basics, you’ll need a comfortable chair, an ergonomic desk, good lighting, and a quiet environment that minimizes distractions. A well-designed home office will enhance your focus and allow you to fulfill your work duties effectively while still being present for your family.
6) You Will Have Moments of High Stress
Juggling your responsibilities to your family and your employer can be a stressful task. Inevitably, there will be days when you’ll feel seemingly overwhelming amounts of stress due to the high demand from these two aspects of your life. It’s essential to learn effective stress management strategies for these moments, and in particular to distinguish what you can versus what you can’t control. Remember, too, that the stressful days don’t cancel out the dual honor and fulfillment of being both a parent and a professional.
7) Employers Expect You to Maintain an Open Line of Communication
Open and transparent communication with your employers is a key aspect of making it as a remote worker, especially if you’re a parent. Expect to have several discussions with them regarding your needs, boundaries, and work arrangements.
It’s also vital to communicate any challenges or adjustments you may require with the people you work with. If you can maintain proper communication with them, you’ll be able to work collaboratively to find solutions that comfortably accommodate your work-from-home parenting situation.
8) Self-Care Is an Essential Aspect of Keeping Yourself Productive
In the midst of juggling work and parenting, which both require dedication and sacrifice, make a commitment to take care of yourself. It may be easy to neglect your own well-being when you’re focused on others, which makes it all the more urgent to bake rest and time for yourself into your daily and weekly routines.
Allocate time for activities that rejuvenate you, like reading, watching your favorite series, or pursuing a hobby. Though they don’t involve your work or parenting roles, these activities will allow you to refresh yourself and be more present and composed for both of them.
In short, as a first-time stay-at-home parent, you’ll need to learn how to anticipate challenges and how to use your new WFH setup to your advantage. The tips above should make it easier to get used to—and actively enjoy—your work-from-home parenting adventures.