Covid-19 blurred the lines between personal and professional. Millions of people moved from the office to the kitchen table, often trying to work with barking dogs and playing with kids in the background. It’s a unique, new dynamic that is filled with many sources of stress. It’s also a tremendous opportunity. Parents who work from home get to spend lots more time with their kids than they ever would have as a commuter.
In this article, we take a look at how you can strike the right work/life balance and truly enjoy the opportunity you have been given.
How to Balance Working From Home and Being a Parent:
An exercise is a natural form of stress relief and an important element of staying healthy. It’s important to maintain your exercise habits, even as you work from home as a parent. Opportunities can vary significantly based on the specifics of your situation.
If your children are school-aged, you might find pockets of time throughout the day for a jog, or even a quick thirty minutes at the gym. If your children are still at home full time, consider finding other ways to introduce exercise into your routine.
Wake up earlier. Exercise after dinner. Find ways to incorporate your children into your exercise. There are many exercise programs available online that are suitable for children and their parents. This could include anything from yoga to even more intricate workout programs.
When all else fails, never underestimate the value of a brisk walk. Speedwalking raises your heart rate in a way that is comparable to jogging. It gets you out of your desk, places you outside (outside time is strongly correlated with lower rates of stress), and helps to burn calories.
It’s also an easy way to exercise with your kids. Depending on their age, your children can follow along at your side, or get pushed in the stroller.
There are even strollers and bike connections that are specifically made for parents to exercise with children. There are lots of ways to get your exercise in while you are in stay-at-home parent mode, so get creative and find something that will be fun for the entire family.
Managing your stress is another important part of balancing life as an at-home professional and a parent.
Things you can do to deal with stress:
- Recognize it: Some parents may be reluctant to even acknowledge that it is stressful to stay at home with their kids while working. Naturally, family time is a happy thing. Parents may be disinclined to acknowledge feelings that contradict this. It’s ok to be stressed out taking care of your children. Acknowledging the feeling will help you deal with it constructively.
- Take Time to Deal With It: Don’t laugh us out of the room just yet. We know that most parents working from home have very little room in their schedules to “take time” for anything. And yet, if you give it some thought, you will find little pockets of opportunity for stress management techniques. This could involve breathing exercises, meditation, or whatever else helps you manage stress.
Take a look at how much time you are spending on your phone. Maybe the thirty minutes that went to Facebook could go-to stress management instead.
- Work Outside: Have to take a work call? Or maybe you just need to read emails or do some data entry. If you have a task that can be accomplished comfortably outside, consider taking advantage of it. As mentioned earlier, spending time outdoors naturally reduces stress, making it a great way to handle your feelings while maintaining productivity.
- Limit Your Caffeine: Caffeine is a necessary component of many people’s workflow. And yet, it can also be a stressor when it is consumed excessively. Pay attention to how much caffeine you are consuming and think about how you feel when you consume it. A reduction may help you manage stress. Half-calf coffee is a good life hack for reducing your intake without being consciously aware of it.
Ask for Help
Stay-at-home parents with access to friends or family members they trust may benefit significantly from asking for help. Consider having your mom come to the house for a few hours while you get things done. Not only does this give your kids the chance to bond with their extended family, but it also gives you a solid chunk of uninterrupted work time.
It’s also important to think long and hard about when you do what. Many work-from-home jobs have a high degree of flexibility. Perhaps you can time your schedule so that it sinks up with when the kids are napping, eating, etc.
You can also take steps to make sure that you are more productive when you are working. By eliminating time-wasting habits like web surfing or social media, you may do the same amount of work in less time.
The Right Perspective
Perspective can help a lot as you navigate life as an employee and stay-at-home parent. It’s easy to feel guilty for the time you spend working instead of playing with your children. Don’t think of it that way. In working from home, you have opportunities to be with your kids that could never have existed in a traditional work environment.
You aren’t depriving your children of anything.
Enjoying the Privilege
Finally, enjoy the privilege. Not so long ago, working from home and taking care of children would have been impossible. You’re breathing rarified air. With the right attitude, and some good work/life balancing techniques, you will enjoy an experience that you can look back fondly on for the rest of your life.
There’s sure to be stress, but there will also be lots of joy for the parent who can approach their new role mindful of how important and special it is. Accept everything that comes, and just be there for it.