A Single Parent’s Guide to Working from Home with Children

We’re all experiencing these changes for the first time and so why not make the best out of the changes together as well?!

The Guide below aims to help you settle into the new-norm of working from home as a single parent, so it can be a quick and easy transition. The first step is to make sure you set time aside sooner rather than later to get yourself and the family organised for the weeks ahead!

Here are some helpful steps to take immediately:

1. Talk with your children: Have a family discussion about what staying at home looks like for your family – most children are now attending school from home and many parents are working from home.
Have the chat with your kids about responsibilities and expectations not only during your work hours, but also in relation to the children’s eLearning and free time.  Taking this time to talk to your children about what is happening will help to reduce anxiety and stress and ease uncertainty in the transition period.

2. Talk with your ex: Organise a time to speak your ex about sharing the responsibility in these changing times, especially if your ex is out of work because they may be able to help out on a day to day basis with the home schooling, after school care, scheduled outings to avoid cabin fever etc. This time will be a challenge for some separated families, but we encourage you to use this as a chance to reach out and build on your co-parenting skills.

3. Plan ahead: Prepare a weekly schedule about what your family’s week looks like – this will help everyone because it will be clear what time you’re is working, who will be home (if you still need to leave for work) and what times the kids need to be “at school” or have free time. For example, in the free time periods, you can allocate chores for the children to do to keep them occupied.  Some people find a shared iPhone calendar works, others prefer old school print outs on the fridge! Planning ahead also includes setting up a designated work space for you at home – create your own office space, so that once you clock off you can enjoy being at home.

4. Be realistic: If your kids finish their eLearning at 3pm each day and you’re the only one available to care for them, depending on their age it may be that you try juggle work and caring for them. If you find this is too much, review your situation and don’t be afraid to speak with your boss about flexible arrangements. This is an unprecedented time and they should understand.

5. Keep a Routine: Being inside long term can definitely bring out the feeling of cabin fever, and it can be easy to slip into unproductive habits. The best thing to do is keep your routine!  Wake up at your usual time, have your usual breakfast and get dressed for work. It’s just like people say “dress for the job you want” – if you want to smash those work goals, you need to feel like you’re ready to do it!  Keeping a routine will be assisted by your Planning Ahead – make sure the family is on the same page and keep a family routine going, you may even include a family work out to ensure you’re all staying active!

These other hints can help you maintain a positive outlook moving forward:

  • Limit your distractions: Your kids will always be around to be a distraction for you, but you can do yourself a favour and remove other distractions from your work space! Delete or block your social media apps on your computer and/or iPhone (you can use the Offtime App).
  • Simple check-ins with your child/ren: Communicate regularly with a simple check-in, especially if they struggle with lack of structure at the best of times!  Ask questions about what they’re learning, what resources they may need and so forth.
  • Stay connected: Make time to reach out to your colleagues each day! Even more importantly, make time to reach out to your family and friends at least once a day! Stay connected, stay in contact and stay updated – this will help you maintain a work/life balance, as well as stay sane while on shutdown.
  • Teachers are available: Most teachers can be contacted by Google Classroom, make sure your child/ren understands how to contact their teacher in case they have any questions. This will help reduce the stress on you and limit how much help they need from you during school hours/work time.
  • Stay active! Make sure you’re getting some daily exercise in. This may be a lunch break stretch session, family yoga hour or setting up a circuit course in the backyard to do each morning before work.
  • Prepare activities for the children: It’s all about planning! If you need to fill in time for your children, think ahead of time and create a list of afternoon activities. You might want to turn on the TV and distract them this way in the afternoons, but you need to take care of their wellbeing too!
    Activities may be: baking (which then gives them snacks for later on), board games, puzzle hour, hide and seek, backyard soccer, screen-free reading time, or make a home cinema (blanket forts are great for this).

Most importantly, remember to log off at the end of the day! Don’t be tempted to keep working because it’s “easy” – you need time for you.

We hope this Guide helps you to adapt to the new-norm we’re all facing. The transition will not be smooth sailing, but once you’ve taken the steps to make sure your family is on the same page and you establish your new routine – we hope it will become much easier!

And remember, we’re all in this together! If you’re struggling, don’t feel like you can’t speak up – call a friend or family member for help or support.

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Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 ~ Headspace: 1800 650 890 ~ National Coronavirus Helpline: 1800 020 080