Most parents experience the juggling act of working from home while taking care of children, roping two full-time jobs into one throughout the workday, at least a few times in their lives. But now that we are all working remotely and the kids are home all day, we're entering uncharted territory.
And it’s not just folks switching to remote work now—life has changed even for parents who were already remote workers. In a recent announcement to the 100% remote staff at Basecamp, CEO Jason Fried explains how the absence of childcare and schools has completely changed the day-to-day for many parents even if they were all used to working from home.
Let me be clear here: while I’m blessed to be an aunt to three children, I’m not a parent. But we have plenty of parents here at Flock who are new to remote work (and plenty who are seasoned experts!) and we are all navigating this together, so I talked to them for insights into how they work from home regularly, and how they’re balancing work and life now.
Benefits of being a work from home parent
There are numerous benefits to remote work—your schedule becomes more flexible, you’re able to focus more on exercise and healthy eating at home, work-life balance is a little easier to achieve, and more. Obviously, the number one benefit for parents who work from home is the ability to spend more time with their kids.
“Being able to see my child throughout the day feels amazing,” Executive Assistant Dipti Khare explains. “Plus, she is so happy not to go to daycare and be with her mumma instead.”
But remote work benefits extend beyond more quality time with kids. Almost all of the parents I spoke to within our team love the time they save on commuting. That’s more family time overall, but it also allows for more flexible work hours. According to Senior Content Marketing Manager Chris Griffin, this makes it easier to navigate daycare and school schedules while also being able to respond to everyday mini-emergencies that come with raising a child.
Having that availability and flexibility makes it easier to work—and to parent—on your own time, contributing to the type of work-life balance all parents need (and deserve!).
Balancing working from home and parenting
“It’s definitely more difficult working from home with a child because you’re basically combining two jobs into one,” says Tessa Smalley, Senior Lifecycle Marketing Manager. “It’s like asking what someone does for work and them responding, ‘I work full time as an accountant and full time as a firefighter.’ They’re two completely different jobs that you have to blend into one while doing both really well. I balance it by allowing myself the flexibility to change my working hours to accommodate my parenting hours. I schedule my calls around her naps whenever possible and allow myself to take away the guilt that comes with plopping her in front of a TV when I just need to get stuff done.”
Pro tip: Use a calendar app to schedule “parenting time” shifts into your day so you can trade off on-work times with your partner or at-home help.
“My daughter wants to play with me if she finds me,” Aayush Mahendru, our Head of Business Analytics and Operations, tells us. “If she knows I am in another room taking a call, she starts banging the door. I have to drop her to my mom's place (we live in the same apartment complex) to be able to work from home.”
Pro tip: Have a go-to “helper” on call that can take care of your children when you have must-do work.
For Chris Griffin, it’s all about being flexible: “The biggest thing for me in balancing parenting with working remotely is not doing both at the same time. There's no way to do both effectively at once. If I have to be home with one or both of my kids during typical work hours, I find alternative times to work. If I know ahead of time, I'll start my day early. If it's unplanned, I'll work at night. Neither is worth half-assing, and it's really hard to watch a child and work at the same time. Of course, I have the benefit of working for a company that encourages remote work and a role that's not hourly.”
Setting up a dedicated workspace
Now, balancing work and parenting isn’t just about blocking time on your calendar and teamwork. You’ll also need your own dedicated workspace to make that work-life separation clear. Here’s how our Flockstars keep their work away from play at home.
Tessa Smalley, Senior Lifecycle Marketing Manager
I have a 15-month-old’s attention span to deal with, so I can’t have just one workspace. I make sure I have a space to work in most rooms of the house. We move around throughout the day to get a change of scenery, and to keep her busy and entertained.
Ryan Kelley, VP of Global Marketing (and proud new dad!)
If possible, it’s best to have a space where you can work in isolation for a bit. Many don't have the luxury of a home office or spare room, but if you can swing it, you should try.
Vinayak Ravi, Director of Acquisition Marketing
I have a separate space in my room where I have my home office set up. Usually when I am working from home or taking calls from home, I lock myself in my room and use this space.
It may seem impossible now, but you already know that parenting is all about making the impossible work for you. As you adjust to this new remote work environment, remember that you’ve succeeded already—both as a parent and a working professional. You can do this!
Take it from Dipti Khare, who is by now an expert at working from home: “Frankly speaking, I feel stress-free working from home, even when I have to rearrange my work around my little one’s needs. I can't explain it—it's a different kind of happiness which only a parent can understand.”