Set up a work area you can sneak off to, but accept that this will become the most fascinating part of your home
Your children will want to touch every inch of it, steal your Sellotape, rub your blu tack into the carpet and make a den under your desk. Most work can be done on a slyly opened laptop while the kids are watching telly or playing.
Saving work for the evenings is great idea – in theory
In practice, a day of work-parenting will have fried your brain by bath time. If your children still nap, it’s worth getting your head down too so you’re still functioning by 7.30pm and can get a couple of hours in if you need to.Establishing set times to work will probably end in tears (yours). Instead, wait til kids are occupied and crack on for as long as you can. If you live with a partner, however, scheduling set work times with them is really helpful. If they’re still going into the office, ask them to do mornings and/or come home early so you know you have a handful of guaranteed child-free hours. If your partner is working from home too, take turns.
Be honest with yourself and the people you work with
Kids interrupt, need tummies topped up, bums wiped, cuddles, stories read to them, arguments umpired and constant attention… usually all of these things simultaneously about five seconds after you’ve got onto a conference call. Accepting that it’s going to be a juggle and making sure colleagues know that yep, you may need to step away from a call to wipe a tiny butt makes life way less stressful.
Remember to switch off
When you’re switching between work and parenting all day, it’s very easy to forget to do anything else. For the sake of your own mental wellbeing, grab opportunities to do something for yourself – a walk, a run, hiding away with a book and a hot cup of tea, a workout or a FaceTime wine date with a friend. Don’t feel guilty about logging out of work stuff, pouring a drink, ordering a take-away and watching Netflix once the kids are in bed.
Enjoy your new temporary colleagues
Working from home with kids is bonkers but there are many, many good points. Breaking off for a game of skittles or Lego beats drifting around Boots during your lunch-break, you can eat umpteen fish fingers instead of claggy supermarket sandwiches, plus your children’s little faces and silly chat make a pleasant change from glum colleagues and office politics. Oh, and the commute is a dream…
If you need somebody to entertain the kids while you work, the Bubble app puts you in touch with trusted sitters in your area – and yes, they are available during the day!