With the continuous spread of COVID-19, Circuit Breaker remains to be implemented in Singapore after over a month since its announcement. The closure of schools and offices across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic has compelled most of us to stay indoors and work from home instead. Undoubtedly, however, some could be having it tougher than others when working from home with toddlers and young children.
As we take time to appreciate the efforts of our essential workers, frontline and health professionals, here is a significant group that continues to soldier on day-in and day-out, on top of tackling work commitments and household duties: parents.
Working from home might seem like a favourable proposition for parents, but those with kids (especially toddlers) might find it increasingly challenging as little ones require round-the-clock attention. This makes it extremely difficult for parents to work effectively amid constant distractions and interruptions.
June Holidays Brought Forward
It was previously announced that June school holidays would be brought forward to 5 May (and run until 1 June) in light of ongoing Circuit Breaker measures to safeguard the community’s health and reduce COVID-19 cases.
During the holidays, parents will have to continue hustling while keeping an even closer watch on their kids as it presents a time for more active children who might be seeking various activities now that school’s out.
In such a situation, how can parents work effectively with kids around? If this is a problem that you are facing while working from home, here are some useful tips to help you be productive at work.
Working From Home With Toddlers: Tips to Help Parents Stay on Track
Devise a Schedule and Stick to it
Anyone can devise a schedule. But having it well-planned out and sticking to it is what makes it truly effective for you.
More than just creating a schedule, it should be one that you and your kids can follow. Start planning out your day by allocating specific hours for daily chores such as cleaning up, having breakfast, lunch or dinner, working out, resting and the like.
It might seem like a no-brainer but your schedule is likely to be more effective if it resembles your daily routine pre COVID-19. For example, if your kids are school-going, allocate their ‘school-hours’ for studying or completing their holiday assignments while you use that time to work. If they are toddlers, you can plan their play-time in such a way that it allows you to work without interruptions. A balanced routine with adequate time for work, education, entertainment and daily chores can go a long way in organising your life.
Tip: Just like keeping fit which requires strict discipline to see results, same goes for this parents!
Find your Do-Not-Disturb Zone
Creating a space that is dedicated solely to your work is ever more important in this COVID-19 period. In the limited amount of time parents have with so many commitments, focus is key.
If you have not done so, start off by finding a room or corner in your home that is quiet and peaceful and allows you to concentrate on your work. Create a work-like environment at home by demarcating your ‘office’ from the rest of the house and setting up a proper office. This area should be your do-not-disturb zone when you are working.
Although it is not always possible to keep children away from any area in the house, a proper office-space can definitely make your children respect your boundaries once they understand that this space is off-limits. Talk to your children and explain to them about your work responsibilities at an age-appropriate level. Make them understand that you are not to be interrupted for a few hours in a day when you are working.
Tip: If your children have any questions, let them try to solve it by themselves within a reasonable time frame without asking you for help unless necessary. Otherwise, they will have to wait until the time you have specified and are able to get back to them.
Keep Your Kids Entertained
This is especially important during the school holidays for kids. In case of an extended holiday, kids have a tendency to be disruptive and mischievous when restless, without activities and/or accompaniment.
To help tackle this, engage your kids with hobbies and games that they enjoy. Choose activities and games that are constructive, safe and appropriate for their age.
Also, before going on “work mode”, ensure that you spend some quality time with your kids so that they do not feel ignored. If you are working from home with toddlers, fix a few hours in a day for their nap. You can efficiently utilise your kid’s nap-time to finish your work. The more your kids are occupied with entertaining activities, the more time you can dedicate your energies to work.
Tip: Even a little extra screen time will not hurt when you are really busy at work. At those times, it is okay to allow them to watch TV or play video games for a little longer.
Take Your Partner’s Help
In such trying times, you will need your partner’s support more than ever, and vice versa.
Find out what works for both of you in terms of dividing responsibilities, from household chores to time spent with kids. What are compromises each of you are able to make, willingly?
The key here is smart allocation according to availability. If your shift starts early, your husband can take care of feeding breakfast to the kids and vice versa. If your company allows flexible work shifts, then you can plan the duties and responsibilities of both according to your shift timings. If not, agree on creating a strict schedule that is feasible for everyone to follow. Working from home with toddlers and children is a lot less stressful when your partner is there to help you with the child-rearing.
Tip: Always talk it out with your partner on what is or isn’t okay with you. Avoid keeping everything in to avoid burnout and the possible build-up of feelings of resentment for each other.
All you want to do is get work finished quickly and cut away needless breaks, right? But no, that could be counterproductive.
As opposed to the popular belief that breaks are disruptive and distracting, studies show that breaks are actually relaxing and improve productivity. When at home, you can utilise your breaks by spending quality time with your kids, exercising, taking meals, take a relaxing shower or simply doing something that calms your senses. Short breaks while working from home will allow you to give some attention to your family as well as boost your productivity—a win-win situation.
We hope that these tips can help tide you through trying times, especially with the June holidays round the corner. Your kids are surely hoping to spend more time with you—so make the best out of this family bonding experience. Meanwhile, stay safe and hustle on!