How to Stay Sane as a Parent Who Works from Home

mom works from home
Photo By Yuganov Konstantin/shutterstock

Over the last few weeks, any semblance of routine you might have had has gone out the window. All of a sudden, everyone is at home, and you can’t leave. Never have you been so in awe of daycare workers and pre-school teachers. It turns out that hanging out with a three-year-old for eight hours a day is both incredible and infuriating.

Unfortunately, most of us still have to work. Working from home is its own beast, even when it’s planned. But given the rapid pace at which we packed up our office essentials and hurried home, it’s even more challenging. Not only do you have to deal with teething children, but the new systems your office implemented have teething problems of their own.

Can you complete your work without giving unlimited screen time to your children? And how do you wind down when you have 3.5 full-time jobs happening in the same space? We’re all in the same boat; we can all learn from each other. These are our best tips for surviving the new normal for a few weeks.

Rethink the Way You Approach Time

At the office, you punch the time clock. You arrive and leave at a set time. There’s a distinct line between home and work. That line just disappeared in the blink of an eye.

However, keeping some sort of time line in the sand, pun intended, will help you and ultimately, your family, stay sane. Retaining as much of an office-like routine as you can help you separate your work life from your home life. You may still be punching a clock while you’re working from home, but if not, there are ways to track your own time in order to ensure you’re parsing out work time from family time.

If you’re wanting to loosely track your own time, you can use a time calculator to help you estimate. If you’re tracking your time for invoicing or for a paycheck, there are a number of time tracking apps you can use, such as Toggl or Harvest, that allow you to track the time of individual activities or projects. These are also useful if you supervise employees and need a more convenient means of distinguishing remote work hours.

Rethinking the way you approach time will also help you meet productivity goals. It’s hard to focus for sustained periods at the office; it’s almost impossible at home, particularly with the kids home, and even if you’re managing the situation with your nanny’s help. Consider using a method like the Pomodoro technique to track your productivity. Pomodoro gives you 25 minutes of intense, focused work and five minutes off. Switching on the timer during your kids’ nap time can help you make the most of that quiet time and help you accomplish high priority tasks.

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Check-in via Video When You Can

A big challenge remote workers face is maintaining good communication with their teams. Collaboration can be laborious, and a lot of the meaning in email and Slack messages is lost because there’s no tone or body language to rely on. When you couple these problems with the heightened anxiety surrounding the pandemic and the economy, it’s not hard to see how an innocuous email can become a huge source of stress.

It’s important to embrace the magic of video calls. Video gives everyone a chance to connect more fully, and it also instills a sense of normalcy that we need. It gives you a chance to talk to other adults, which you might find you miss after a few days of trying to balance work with young kids.

If you’re a leader at work, suggest switching from email to video calls ASAP. If you’re working on a small team, set up times for everyone to catch-up, even if it’s not a mandatory meaning. Yes, video calls are technically meetings, and you’ve been conditioned to hate them, but times have changed, and video conferencing will make your life easier. If nothing else, you’ll get to meet your co-workers’ pets.

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Create Boundaries at Home

When you’re at work, you benefit from policies that often fly under your radar, especially with regard to health and safety. Managing the health and safety of remote workers requires a different approach, and your company may not have had time to update your HR policies or employee handbook. What could befall you in your own home?

Mental health is a huge hazard. The combination of your work duties with increased child care labor can take a huge toll, and that’s on a good day. Do your best to create boundaries at home, both physical and psychological, to help you navigate your changing life.

Work in one area of the house, and leave the rest of your house as a place to connect with your kids and relax. Don’t work on the sofa and don’t work in bed. When you reach your time limit for the day, unplug. Consider turning off your phone or the router for an hour and giving yourself a break.

Working from home with kids around isn’t easy, but it isn’t forever. Your job is to stay sane and keep you and your family safe. If you’ve done that, then you’ve succeeded.


Sam Bowman writes about families, wellness, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time, he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore. Sam recommends Wave Payroll as a time calculator.

Image Source: Unsplash

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