What to do when both parents have to work from home

You won’t always have much choice about home schooling during the pandemic, but it can be a challenge when both parents work from home. Plan ahead, stay flexible, and use schedules to give everyone space.

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Decide on your approach together

Most of us want to do a good job at work, so it’s natural to want to prioritise our own deadlines or work responsibilities. Right now, it will be more effective to balance everyone’s needs where possible.

Start with a family or parents’ chat to discuss how to make things work for all of you. You could consider:

  • What does a school day look like? Will the kids spread work and breaks throughout the day, or concentrate on school work during the morning?
  • Can parents take turns? For instance, one could spend the morning with the children, and then swap over in the afternoon. That way you both get some dedicated work time.
  • Can your manager help? Talk to your employers about flexible work patterns, workloads and deadlines.

Plan ahead

Schedules help everyone know what they’re doing, and have enough space to do it.

  • If they’re old enough, give children activities to do on their own while you both get on with work.
  • Schedule important work tasks during your dedicated work period. For instance, arrange to make phone calls while your partner has the kids.

Embrace the change

  • Be flexible. Sometimes school work won’t get done when or how you plan. Just try to fit it in again the next day.
  • Try new approaches. Could you work when the kids go to bed? Or try a much shorter school day to give both parents time to work?

Don’t get disheartened if getting to grips with home schooling feels like a challenge.

Many of us are in the same position, and we’re all learning as we go. Compromise where you can to keep the peace, and be patient with each other.

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