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A WFH Survival Guide for Parents, by Parents

Lucy O'Connor
Lucy O'Connor|

As businesses all around the world shift to remote working, schools and universities have followed suit and closed their doors to prevent the virus’ spread. And for the first time, many parents are finding themselves juggling their work lives with homeschooling—and this can present a whole new set of challenges.remoter-parentsTo give you a helping hand, HubbleHQ’s remote working parents have come up with some excellent ideas on how to balance work, parenting and homeschooling (as well as some top tips on how to stay sane!)

We’ve also created a Remote Work Hub: the definitive source for all things remote work-related. From invaluable insights to best practices, the hub aims to provide support and solace for those adapting to this major transition.

Create a daily routine 

We get it, trying to stick to a schedule when things are so turbulent might be a bit tricky, but creating a routine is crucial. If you’re a working parent, then you’ll already have a game plan for getting the children dressed, ready and out the door in the morning, so we suggest adapting that.

Set the alarms, get everyone dressed (including you!), have breakfast, and then determine what to do next. Create a timetable detailing tasks that are relative to the whole family—the visual cue will establish a sense of normality into your lives that will help to keep you on track. 

Manage your time

As the pandemic calls for a different style of remote working, it may be useful to rethink how you manage your time.

Scheduling when to delve into ‘deep work’ and ‘shallow work’ can be a fantastic way to optimise your time. When your children are preoccupied or asleep, you can focus solely on the ‘meaty’ tasks that require solid, undistracted work. Then, you can start cracking on with smaller tasks like processing emails when you’re making lunch or watching your children’s dance rehearsal.

“Pre-pandemic, I used to wake up early to get the kids ready and commute into work, or I was running around like a headless chicken ferrying the kids to an uncountable number of after school activities”, says Tommy Newman, father of two and Product Manager at HubbleHQ. 

“Now, I get up to start work around 6AM to get a solid 2-3 hours of uninterrupted work in before the children wake up. I also know that I can work later into the evening if I don’t get a full day’s work during regular working hours. The silver lining of having a quieter life is that I now have the freedom to manage my time differently.”

Whilst ensuring you have time to focus on work, it’s also important to make room for spending time with your children. These are unique, unprecedented times and one of the biggest perks of being in isolation is having more concentrated time to spend with your children. So, try to make the most of it! 

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Communicate, communicate, communicate

Those who are well-acquainted with remote working know that over-communication is key. Ensure that you have a candid conversation with your manager about your unique circumstances and manage expectations of what you can achieve in a day. You’ve never had to juggle work with being a full-time home-schooler, so go easy on yourself, do your best, and don’t overpromise.

Our remote-parents recommend covering these pointers when communicating your unique circumstance to your team: 

  • Your office hours.
  • When you’ll be offline or unavailable.
  • When you can commit to deliverables.

If you have a partner at home, make sure to communicate your work schedule with them as well. “By alternating which parent has use of the dedicated workspace, and which one is ‘out braving the elements’ being the on-call parent, we’ve found that this can maximise focus time”, Tommy says“Ideally, this can be timetabled to work around everyone’s most important remote meetings/conferences.” 

For more info on how to maintain effective communication when working remotely, check out this blog.

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Go easy on yourself

I think taking it easy on yourself and on the kids is really important. As long as they are safe, and coping OK mentally with all the change, I am happy with that”, says Scott, father of two and React Contractor at HubbleHQ. In our case, I think school work actually helps, because it keeps some normality and continuity. But if it was a battle then we would dial it right down.

This is an unprecedented situation, so relax your expectations on what a perfect workday or homeschooling day should be. And give yourself some credit: you’re doing an amazing job.

Create a dedicated workspace

Next step is to set up a dedicated workspace. If you’re fortunate enough, you may have an office but even if you don’t, you can definitely set up shop on your kitchen table or your bedroom—anywhere that’s quiet, bright and allows you to be productive will do the trick!

This can help to establish to your children that although you’re at home, you’re also ‘at work’ and cannot be distracted too much. To go a step further, you could even have a physical sign on the door signalling when you can and can’t be distracted. 

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Prepare

Kelly Lee, mother of two and Customer Success Manager at HubbleHQ, recommends preparing as much as you can for the days ahead. Whether that’s deciding on the activities for the day, or preparing lunch the night before.

“Creating a snack box with a variety of different snacks for children to graze on throughout the day, really helps to prevent constant interruptions.”

Your children, particularly your younger ones, will want to be just like you. So, give them a work station and set them some tasks for them to do. This may be a work pack from the school or some fun creative challenges and activities.

Here are some tried and tested online learning resources:

  • BrainPop – Animated educational site for kids
  • Curiosity Stream – Award-winning science, technology, history and nature documentaries.
  • Tynker – Easy-to-learn, visual programming and coding courses.
  • Khan Academy – Expert-created content and resources for every course and level.
  • Creative Bug – Online video arts and crafts workshops and techniques

Educational YouTube channels:

Go for a walk—alone! 

Last but not least, make sure you dedicate some time for yourself. Make the most of the ‘one exercise a day’ allowance, get outside and clear your head—we recommend trying to get out for one walk each day. If this isn’t possible for you, find the windows of freedom in your week and take them.

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We understand that amid this new work-home-school life, there are going to be many challenging moments. But remember they’ll also be plenty of chances to cuddle, play and sing songs with your child in the middle of the workday where it wasn’t possible before. 

So try and enjoy it, make some special moments and get through this together. From all of us at HubbleHQ, good luck!

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