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Working parents: how to work from home if you have children in Belgium
With many schools currently closed around the world, working from home with children around has become a reality for many parents in these unprecedented times in Belgium. So what can working parents do to ensure their children are occupied and happy while still being able to support their business and colleagues? Based on real experiences of Hays employees who are parents, here are six tips for working at home with kids.
1. Write a family schedule
Creating a family schedule early on is a great way to kickstart the work from home process for parents. Ideally, this schedule should outline a full day from waking to bedtime, and include set office hours, mealtimes and breaks. It also helps to line up work plans with the children’s typical routines – for example, parents of young ones may find it easier to schedule calls during naptime or when older children are doing schoolwork. If there are multiple working adults in the household, it may also help to allocate who will ‘own’ each chunk of time, thereby helping everyone ensure they have some distraction free work time.
2. Agree your working hours
Depending on what age your children are, it may be necessary to alter working hours to their needs. So make sure you are able to discuss and agree on the changes in your hours with your manager. Most leaders will want to maintain as much business continuity as possible at such challenging times, while also setting an understanding tone amongst employees – so they should be accommodating of reasonable requests.
3. Stick to your routine
Once your schedule is in place, trying not to deviate from it is the next challenge. It is equally important that your children adjust to the circumstances quickly, and establishing a routine is vital to achieving this, as well as assuring their general wellbeing. It will also be a good way to make them understand that there are set times where – if possible – they should try to not disturb any working adults.
4. Keep your children entertained
It can be helpful to preplan games and activities for the week ahead to ensure your children aren’t bored during this time period. Consider occupying them with things like art projects, learning and research tasks, gardening or exercise. For older kids, give them some extra responsibilities such as looking after their younger siblings or maybe ‘owning’ certain mealtimes. Of course, it’s important to reward them for this behavior, so consider pushing their usual bedtime back, increasing their pocket money or whatever other perks you see fit.
5. Set your work zone
For many parents the thought of creating an ‘adult only’ zone in their home may be wishful thinking. However, for kids who are a bit older, it could help to try and carve out a space to work that is free from children’s paraphernalia. This will help keep your work and parenting roles separate, which will then allow you to give each your full concentration for a set amount of time without compromising on either.
6. Expect the unexpected
For parents who are struggling to juggle their responsibilities from home, it can help to remember not to worry when things don’t go to plan. There is no point being too stressed about your child suddenly interrupting a conference call, or needing to rearrange a video-meeting at short notice because one of your toddlers hurt themselves. These things happen, and under the circumstances, most of your colleagues, or customers should be understanding of your challenges.”
Finally, try to enjoy this time together. These are stressful times for many people in Belgium. However, it is important to try to notice the silver lining wherever you may find it. Chances are, your kids will be pretty excited to be spending so much extra time with you.