We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
We are balancing online home schooling while I work from home. For me, working from home is not pandemic-driven; I’ve worked from home for several years. This allows me enough flexibility to care for the needs of my disabled daughter and balance a career that I love. I have worked for the same company for 16 years, and have always been honest with them (as well as with myself) that when I can no longer meet the demands of the job due to rising personal demands, I will let it go.
Although my work hours increased during the height of the pandemic, I was used to the crunch between the needs of my 30-year career and taking care of my family’s additional needs.
Many have found themselves working from home during this pandemic which has demonstrated to employers that productivity doesn’t decrease based on physical location of the work space. What they may find, in fact, is that the added flexibility will improve their retention.
The fact that I can toss in a load of laundry in the time I’d otherwise be gossiping at the water cooler helps me free up my evenings and weekends to be present with my family. I can pause between Zoom calls to check on my child’s online school progress, or to make her lunch.
It also changes the paradigm of the nine-to-five, in that my job is very much driven by what I produce and its impact – rather than counting the exact number of hours I am on the clock, or ensuring that those hours are typical.
Whether you’re new to the working from home gig, or you are looking for better ways to manage your time, here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years:
Write it Down
Create a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. This will help avoid confusion, and let everyone know what to expect. I put e-v-e-r-y-thing on a calendar, or I am absolutely frazzled!
Wake up early
I get up an hour (or more) before my kids to check email and make any schedule adjustments for the day. Perhaps I’ll answer a few emails and get a head start. Some days I use the time for a quiet shower and cup of coffee – self-care is important too!
Know all of your benefits
FMLA can help when you need to take time off for medical care, IEP meetings or your child is having the meltdown of the century. There are a growing number of states that require paid FMLA and paid sick leave to better support families. Personally, taking full advantage of available programs is a large part of what’s allowed me to continue working as a special needs parent. Also, understand your company’s work-at-home policies. They may pay for cell phones. office supplies or internet service that’s required for the job.
Because everyone is working from home, that could mean receiving emails at all hours. Ask yourself whether it’s something you need to read at 9 pm, or if it can wait until the next business day.
Carve out Space
If able, carve out a designated workspace that you can walk away from, even if it’s the corner of the dining room table. Personally, I work hard to keep my work space and bedroom separated. If you have a separate room that is used as an office, check with your accountant; there may be tax deductions available.
Encourage independent play
Choose activities that kids are able to do by themselves, but are also engaging. This can be more difficult with my daughter who has special needs, but sometimes I have her sit at the table while I am working, so I can encourage her to keep playing. My kids love the tangram magnetic puzzles. We have colorful, magnetic shapes, puzzles and a baking sheet from the dollar store. This will often give me 30 to 45 minutes to get work done.
Find a fun online class
I found a kids Zumba group that is just $5 per session that my kids LOVE! It gets them moving, and gives me an hour of uninterrupted time. Win-win! We’ve also logged that class to meet my kids’ physical education requirements while they are at home.
Reward good behavior
My kids have learned to keep quiet while I’m on a Zoom call. Has it always been perfect? Nope. But over the years we’ve developed a “signal” so they know to keep it down. When they were little, I’d give them gummies ( an absolute favorite!) when they kept quiet for 15 minutes. Eventually, we got to the point we are today.
Forget what time it is
Depending on the flexibility of your job, that may mean that certain projects are done while the kids sleep. That math assignment might get done at noon while you’re on lunch, or at 7pm after work. Traditional time is less important than balancing time to get things done.
I am a big fan of slow-cooker meals that can be prepped and frozen. It allows us to have a hot meal without too much effort on even the busiest of days. We prep pancakes and muffins to make breakfast quick and easy too!
Be OK with chicken nuggets
There will be days when frozen chicken nuggets with a side of applesauce will be what’s for dinner. It’s all about balance.
Give yourself grace
This is the most important “to-do” of all. You’ll have good days and bad days. Take a deep breath, and forgive yourself when it doesn’t all get done. It’s OK.
10 Tips for Working Special Needs Parents
Business Travel and Special Needs Families
Grace: an Important Part of Self Care
Slow Cooker Pork
Freeze ahead Gluten and Dairy-free Pancakes
Muffins, Gluten and Dairy-Free
Slow Cooker French Toast
Smitten with us? Share Tumble into Love with a friend!