The WP Valet is a distributed workforce company. Our team members are based in Florida, California, Louisiana, North Carolina, and even in Uttar Pradesh, India. This means we work from our home offices, local coffee shops, and other locations that aren't your typical cubicle-based office environments.
Many of us also have children, and we realize we're very fortunate to be available for them during the traditional work hours. However, working from home with children fighting for your attention can be challenging.
I recently took a non-scientific poll of the parents on our team to learn how they manage their schedules and daily tasks without getting overwhelmed or derailed by their kids' demands. If you're a work-at-home parent or know someone who is, perhaps our experiences and advice will help you.
Advice from Remote Working Parents
Below are questions, answers and advice for remote working parents on our team.
Are your kids home full-time every day?
As you might imagine, the answer to this question varied depending on age. Parents with kids under two years of age typically answered yes. Parents with older children typically have their kids in preschool or elementary school at least a few hours a day, for at least few days a week.
What is your typical workday schedule?
Almost across the board, our parents' work day is broken up over a 24 hour period. Some work very early morning hours, breaking for child care and family time during morning routines, then coming back to work later in the morning on into afternoon hours. Parents would generally break again for dinner and nighttime routines, then resume work again after bedtimes.
I have two boys, aged 19 months and 3 1/2 years, and it took me a long time to adjust to a staggered schedule. It took dedication and focus to ensure that I keep the right frame of mind when sitting down to work on my tasks. In retrospect, it was probably tough for me personally because I was on a strict 7-5 schedule before we had kids. Big change! If you're struggling with the same change in schedule, I'm happy to report that it can be done successfully.
Which hours in the 24 hour day do you typically work?
The answer to this question varied greatly—often depending on personal preference and available child care, but the majority of our parents reported that remote working employment demands that you always have an open connection with your other team members. As our schedules vary, so does the time of day in which we communicate with each other with questions, updates, and other work-related information that we need to share.
What is the reward of working from home (with kids)?
Every single one of our parents said the most rewarding part of working from home was the opportunity to spend more time with our kids and experience the nuances and subtleties of their development.
We also realize how fortunate we are to be able to run to the store for milk, take our kids to their doctor appointments. or run some other errand without having to take a personal or sick day—or just not worry about getting back to the office before lunch is over.
What is the biggest struggle working from home (with kids)?
The most popular replies were:
- The constant interruptions
- Not being as "present" as I'd like to be during work hours
- Trying not to think about the household chores needing to be done
- Keeping my computers safe
Dealing with these issues is indeed a struggle, but all of these can be managed effectively by setting strict limits with yourself and your kids. Two of the sentences I find myself repeating constantly are: "This is Daddy's work area, and it's only for Daddy," and "Daddy is working, please be patient."
Of course, if you've ever been around children, you know they don't really care about what you're doing when they need something...NOW. But, if you're consistent with boundaries and setting expectations, you can manage to be productive while at home with the kids. I promise.
How can remote working parents stay productive?
As you might imagine from what you've read above, it all comes down to finding a schedule that works for you and your family and sticking to it. One other important piece of advice we received from several parents is to let go of the guilt that you're not doing enough for your kids or your work.
This one hit home for me because it's something that I struggled with when trying to find my life/work balance. If you realize that being a remote working parent does ultimately allow you to spend more time with your kids and family, creating a schedule that supports that balance isn't that tough.
Can you relate?
What advice can you share with other remote working parents? Let us know your experience in the comments below.