As parents, we face the constant juggle of work and parenting responsibilities, and the school year brings its own set of challenges. From managing school drop-offs and pickups to attending parent-teacher meetings, the demands can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, with effective strategies and a mindful approach, it is possible to find a balance that allows us to excel both at work and in our roles as parents. In this blog, we will explore practical tips and insights to help you navigate the delicate balancing act of work and parenting during the school year.
Kids do better when they have structure. Now that children don’t have the structure of regular school days consider creating your own family schedule. Your days will flow better when there’s some sort of a routine.
You can also have a family meeting and build a schedule together with your children. When your children have a say, they are more likely to buy in. Build a realistic schedule that your family will follow. You might want to include lots of detail or leave it more flexible – whichever works for your situation. The schedule can include:
Write your family’s schedule down and put it somewhere visible. You can adjust the schedule as needed so that it remains as something that your family finds helpful and wants to follow. The schedule should be a useful guide for your family – not a source of stress.
As you schedule time blocks for work, consider an early morning block to do your most important task for the day, so you can get it out of the way before your children even wake up. Then it might be easier to take a break from your work and get your children started with their daily priorities.
If you and your partner both work from home, you might want to work in shifts, if that’s possible in your situations. At the very least, decide who can work uninterrupted at a given time, and who will be available for kids if needed. Communicate ahead of time to avoid stress and arguing.
Try to wake up around the same time every day, followed by a morning routine. Don’t just roll out of bed to your laptop, but get ready as you would when you go to the office. Having some consistent routines in this time will improve your mental health.
You might even want to walk around the block every morning and evening as your commute to create a break between work and home.
You might find that you’re more productive than usual, or not even close. Some days are probably better than others. You can’t expect to give your work and your children’s schoolwork a 100% effort. Re-set expectations for you and your family. Be kind to yourself and also your children.
At the end of each day, plan your next workday and prioritize your tasks. That way, you’re ready to get started and focus on the most important task first thing in the morning, or whenever your slated time for uninterrupted work is.
The less important tasks can be tackled later. Keep your to-do lists shorter than usual so that you can be available for your children if needed.
Tasks that don’t need as much deep focus, such as answering emails, could be done while your child does their assignments next to you, for example.
Let your supervisor and team members know if you are less productive than usual, instead of pretending you have everything under control while your work suffers.
Whether it’s a closet or a nook in the family room, try to have a dedicated space for everyone. This will help with the distinction between work/school and home mode.
Teach your children that when you are in that space, you are working. If you don’t have a door to your space, you could use a “do not enter” sign or headphones to signal when you cannot be interrupted.
There’s a difference between distance learning and homeschooling. Your child’s teacher is still responsible for teaching. Your role is to guide your child along as needed.
Let your child’s teacher know if your child needs more support or cannot complete all the work. Many teachers ask parents and children just to try their best and understand if all the work isn’t completed perfectly and on time.
If school is becoming stressful for your family, do reach out to your school for advice and support.
While it can be daunting to combine working from home and parenting, it’s also an opportunity to spend more time with your children throughout the day. If you have flexibility with your schedule, you can carve out longer breaks during the day and have a meal, play a game, or go outside with your kids.
Schedule in some fun family time in the evenings, too. You could draw, play a board game, watch a movie, cook together, or go for a bike ride. You can write a list of ideas and let everyone pitch in.
Many people end up working longer days when working from home, but it’s important for your wellbeing to wind down and spend quality time as a family.
Your kids’ schoolwork should take less time than your workday. If you’re not keen on the idea of your kids spending countless hours on TikTok while you keep working, you can come up with alternative options together with your child. You can again write a list that your children can refer to when needed.
Depending on your children’s interests, the list can include suggestions such as coloring, dance parties, crafts, sports, or calling their friend or grandparent.
These days the time for self-care might be sparse, especially if you’re a single parent. Try to be creative and find new ways to take some time just for yourself because you need it more than ever. Managing work, parenting, and school can take a toll on anyone’s patience and energy levels.
Balancing work and parenting during the school year requires careful planning, effective time management, and a supportive network. By prioritizing your responsibilities, establishing a solid support system, maximizing quality time, managing your time efficiently, practicing self-care, and fostering open communication, you can find a harmonious equilibrium that allows you to excel in both realms. Remember, finding balance is an ongoing process, and with patience, adaptability, and a positive mindset, you can successfully navigate the challenges and joys of being a working parent during the school year.