“You can be a good mom and a working mom. You are allowed to be both.- Anonymous”
“Working from home with kids is not impossible, but it’s very, very tough. I have gone nuts trying to figure out what I can do to maintain my focus and productivity while working remotely with my three kids, all under 5, around”.
These words of despair came from none other than one of my team members, Tina Smith, a software engineer by profession and a mother of three.
Tina has always been one of the most zealous and dedicated people in my team while working from a physical office space.
Like so many other organizations who had to quickly switch to remote work due to Covid-19, some of our team members at ProofHub too faced some challenges initially as they tried to navigate the change in the work environment.
“If you’re struggling to strike a balance between work from home and looking after your kids right now, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent or an inefficient employee.
It just means that it’s difficult.”
The new situation was even more challenging for working mothers like Tina and a couple of more members in our time. Barely a week after we switched to remote work, I could notice a dip in the productivity of “working mothers” in my team.
As a mother of two, I could relate to their problem. It’s not that I haven’t faced such issues before. I understand very well how it’s like juggling your profession as a pro and performing your duties as a caring mother for kids.
Working mothers are excellent multitaskers and they barely get recognized for this skill. A very few business owners and team managers understand how tough it can get for working mothers to manage both work and kids, which shows the utter lack of empathy on their side.
To be honest, it’s damn hard when you’re on a video call with your client, manager, or business owner, and your toddlers are screaming as they pull each other’s hair out! Not for the faint-hearted.
Since I had experienced a similar problem a few years back when I had to work remotely due to some reasons, I came up with a few proven tips and tricks for working mothers of my team.
These worked just fine for me and helped me successfully tackle both duties without affecting the quality of my work. I shared these valuable tips with my team members (working mothers), and they too benefited immensely.
I wanted to share this useful information with other working mothers across the globe who might be facing similar challenges while working remotely. Thankfully, open platforms like Medium allow people to share their views on a wide range of topics.
This allows people to easily access all sorts of information and solutions they’re looking for to sort out their problems.
Remember, achieving an ideal work-life balance is never too far away if you make minor yet effective changes to your perspective and working style.
"Women make up half of all workers in the United States. Nearly 4 in 10 homes have a working mother."
Five Actionable Tips For Working Mothers To Successfully Manager Both Remote Work And Kids
1. Set Up A Dedicated Work Space
Working remotely doesn’t mean you can get so casual with the work that you work from your bed, couch, or sofa. It’s important to be in the right frame of mind even when you work from home day in, day out.
Having a dedicated office space that gives you a regular office-like feel besides leaving an impression on your kids that their mom is not on holidays!
Pro Tip: See to it that your workspace is well-lit and there’s a provision for an air-conditioner/heater for your comfort. If possible, try to set up your workspace in your home where there are the least distractions.
Yes, it can be difficult for someone who is living in a small house, but you can always occupy a small corner that is reserved for only work and make your kids aware of it. Set up a table, chair, and other work essentials that you usually require while working from a regular office space.
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2. Be Forthright With Your Boss/Manager
If you are amongst those working mothers who are working remotely with kids for the very first time, it’s but natural that you’ll be overwhelmed as you try to manage both work and look after kids at the same time.
Remember that your boss/manager might not be aware of your newfound struggle and would be expecting you to be at your productive best.
You should let them know about how you’ll have to make some changes to your work schedule to look after your children. Your discussion should not appear as an excuse, so convey your point smartly with an actionable plan in place.
Pro Tip: State the facts in a straightforward way to the senior management and show them that you have a clear, actionable plan in place to tackle this situation.
Melody Godfred, Muse Career Coach, suggests you might say, “As I switch to working from home, I think it’s important to let the senior management know that I am also responsible for taking care of my two kids, who will not be going to school due to Covid-19.
I understand that I am not expected to compromise the work for personal duties. So, I will create and share a work schedule with you, which will mention the timings I will be available or unavailable for calls or collaboration.
I am dedicated to maintaining the level of excellence the organization expects, and will make sure that there are no communication gaps between us. I appreciate your support and expect to navigate this situation together.”
3. Create A Healthy Home Routine
I know that many remote workers work in shorts or pajamas all day long. You see, no one’s going to see what you’re wearing, or if you’ve even taken a shower or not. While you may be tempted to leverage the flexibility of remote work, the fact is that taking a lackadaisical approach is likely to play on your mindset.
Pro Tip: Dressing up is only one part of a healthy routine while working from home. Make sure you’re eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, exercising daily, and taking adequate breaks to nourish your mind and body.
Remember, your kids will be watching your approach towards work, so it’s on you to show them that you’re all geared up for work. It’s important that you wake up on time, take a shower, and dress up as if you’re all set to go into a regular office. This will also help you put yourself in the right mindset and you’ll find yourself in a better position to work.
4. Share Workload With Your Better Half
During Covid-19, it’s highly likely that your better half will also be working from home. This gives both of you an opportunity to create your work schedule in such a way that you can share your parenting duties without getting your work affected.
For example, you can look after your kids as your husband works and vice-versa. This switch will make it easier for both of you to manage work and parenting duties without feeling guilty or stressed.
Pro Tip: Create a schedule that will work for everyone. Note at what time you’ll be making meals, getting kids dressed, homeschooling them, and then organize your working schedule around them.
Jill Felska, Director of People and Culture at Limelight Health, says, “ Allowing your employees a certain degree of flexibility with work schedules helps them live their lives while increasing their trust manifold in their organizations. Your focus should be more on results than the need to have them seated on their desks for a certain amount of time.”
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5. Ensure Clear Communication- with your colleagues and family members
Smooth, swift communication is an integral part of our professional and personal lives. However, during these unprecedented times where remote work is the new normal, it’s vital to ensure timely and clear communication across the board.
Be it your colleagues, managers, clients, and family members, you need to keep everyone on the same page. This will help to prevent misunderstanding besides helping with managing expectations, remain productive, and ensure that you are not falling behind deadlines.
Pro Tip: Let your colleagues know at what time you’ll be available for communication and when you’ll be unavailable. This will help to set things clear and your team members can assign work accordingly.
Some things can come up each day that can upset your entire schedule for the day. That’s why clear and frequent communication is highly important. When your team members and family members are in the loop about such unexpected events, it will help you be straightforward about your availability just in time to avoid potential miscommunications later.
The Final Thought
As more working ladies become moms and more moms enter the workforce, they need to get more creative in managing both the professional and personal life efficiently. And with remote work becoming a new normal, the challenge is tougher than ever before.
The good news amidst the chaos is that now you can leverage technology and your creative thinking to be a productive worker, as well as, a caring and responsible mother.
I sincerely hope that this article has given you valuable information to all you working mothers out there. Hope you’ll be a more productive worker and caring mother than ever before. Good luck!
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Follow: Vartika Kashyap to read all the articles
Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others, and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click. Follow her on Linkedin.
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How I Championed Working Remotely With Kids Around was originally published in ProofHub Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
How I Championed Working Remotely With Kids Around