Since the pandemic, many more families have been working from home, while caring for their little ones. Or maybe you find yourself unexpectedly without childcare but a mountain of work to do. Here are some tips for making it work.
Share childcare as much as you can
Ideally, if your partner works from home too, you could both take turns looking after your baby. If you can do this, you’re in one of the best possible situations.
Whatever happens, you’re probably going to find you can’t both do a rigid nine to five (although with some jobs, this might be the expectation, see below).
You might both have to spread your work out more throughout the day. For example, one partner could look after the baby in the morning until lunchtime, when the other person takes over childcare until teatime. Or you could alternate two hours ‘shifts’ of work, accommodating conference calls and deadlines.
It might mean the work day for both of you is spread over a longer period of on and off working. Although it’s nice that you’ll get to spend more time with your baby during the day, it can be difficult if you feel you never switch off from work.
You could create a cutoff point that you don’t work past, say 9pm. That way, you know when you can switch off your laptop and relax. For more tips on teamwork in a relationship, see here.
Work out if you’re an early bird or a night owl
Some people are fresher in the morning, and others would rather have a lie in then work into the night. If you’re a morning person, you could get up and start work at 6am, and get a few hours in while your partner takes care of your baby. Then you could knock off work by the end of nap time.
Or you could have the morning to look after your baby, then work through from early afternoon to the evening, if that suits you. Make sure you’re having some time off from both working and childcare though. Watch something you want to on TV, or speak to a friend or family member.
Things might get more difficult if you’re both expected to be on call during the peak daytime hours. If you’re struggling, it might be worth having a chat with your boss about how much you can realistically get done. They might be more flexible if they understand the situation you’re in. For more about working from home with a baby or toddler, see here.
Respect each other’s space
Try and work in different rooms, and bear in mind each other’s work need to work. There’s nothing more annoying than when you’re knee-deep in spreadsheets and your partner wanders in to ask where they can find a clean bib.
Don’t stress about doing everything perfectly
As an aside to the above, if you’re looking after your baby and you don’t normally, here’s a top tip. Don’t sweat the little things. Especially at the moment.
It doesn’t really matter if they wear odd socks or you read them the same book five times as you can’t find another one. Your baby doesn’t care. Just go with it and leave your working partner in peace as much as you can.
That works both ways too – if your partner is looking after the baby while you’re working, don’t pull them up if they do things differently from you. If your baby is happy and looked after, it doesn’t matter if they had lunch or a nap a bit later/earlier than you’d normally do it. Understanding you both have a different way of doing things and they are both valid.
Of course, working from home without childcare isn’t the best situation to be in. You might feel that you’re not doing the best job of your work or looking after your baby.
Remember that these are temporary measures. Your work will hopefully understand if you can’t be as 100% as committed as usual. And as long as you show your baby love and affection, they don’t care if they have cheesy mash three days in a row (alright, they might object by the fourth day).
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