5 Ways for Couples to Cope While Working at Home with Small Children

If you’re reading this, you’re either one of my three e-mail subscribers or have found yourself working at home amidst a pandemic while your little one(s) have been sent home from school for two or more weeks. In searching for solutions, you’ve probably found plenty of examples of couples where one parent works from home and the other keeps the house or cases where a nanny or Au Pair are present. If you’re reading this, it’s probably just you, your partner, and your little one(s) and you’re looking for things you can do to survive the next several weeks. 

While I’m not an expert on parenting, pandemics, or career advice, I have been thinking about how I will be working over the next few weeks if my little one is sent home. Below are a few tactics our family may deploy. Hopefully these will be helpful to you or spark some ideas of your own. In that case, please leave a comment below to share with others how you plan to cope. 

  1. Over-communicate and coordinate schedules
    There is no better time to over-communicate with your team, leader, and family. If you and your spouse both work from home, be sure to send them calendar blocks for times where you must be uninterrupted. Make sure your team and leader know what to expect. This is a crisis, and hopefully your employer will be willing to work with you through this. 
  2. Offer to complete assignments at non-traditional hours 
    This may not apply to all, but if it works for you, it could be an effective strategy to enable you to watch the little one(s) at critical points during your partner’s work schedule. In times of crisis, there may be short turnaround time for deliverables or analysis of information. By offering to work in odd hours, you can boost your team’s productivity and deliver information to key stakeholders more quickly. This may also benefit customers by responding to RFPs and other requests more quickly than competitors are able to.
  3. Leverage alternating PTO for especially busy days, if possible 
    Worst case scenario, or if this takes more time to resolve than expected, alternate days off with your spouse or partner to ensure full coverage of your little one(s) and to allow you each to focus on a full day of work. 
  4. Let them sleep in. 
    With no school bus coming or need to be in the office by 8:30, allow your children to sleep in until they wake on their own so you can use the early hours to focus on deep work. Enjoy the coffee, silence, and lack of interruptions to complete your peskiest To Do’s. 
  5. Relax. This, too, shall pass. 
    Take this opportunity to be present and enjoy close uninterrupted time with your family. Absorb news and social media in periodic bursts instead of constant slow drips. Rest assured that in the coming weeks, we will return to normal and we can all trade stories of ramen noodle hacks and our secret toilet paper towers. 

Working from home and still earning an income during this time is a privilege, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In order to be successful, it is more important than ever to have a plan to focus, eliminate distractions, and ensure that the health and wellbeing of your family. It is important to remember that many of your friends, peers, and people elsewhere in your organization may have a duty to report to work and still find ways to care for their little one(s) amidst these closures. We must remember to be good neighbors during this time.

What strategies will you use to get through this tough time? Leave a comment below.

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