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“Do you know how I used to get everything done in a nine to five day?” a friend asked rhetorically recently.

“At the office there are no kids and no improper fractions”.

This may chime with you.

One of the earliest challenges of lockdown was balancing the newly acquired roles of full time childcare and teacher with the already increasingly stressful task of making a living to pay for it all.

At Work From Home Space, we asked clients, friends and colleagues how this was going and what they’ve learned from their experience.

1. Adopt PEAK Flexibility

I remember football pundit Graeme Sounness once saying that, when he managed, he expected only one thing to be more important to his players than the club – their family.

When you organise your work around your family’s needs things automatically become less stressful. Imagine trying to complete a tricky spreadsheet when you have no childcare provision – makes me anxious just thinking about it. Perform less critical tasks for when distraction from the kids is more likely, or when you need to juggle your work with home schooling. Reserve more high-pressure work for when you are distraction-free.

If you can, make this clear to your boss, actually have this conversation. Tell them that you have the kids today so you’ll have the tricky spreadsheet back with them on Friday when your spouse is doing the home-schooling. The thing is, work is invading home during this strange time – so work needs to realise where it fits in. There is a pecking order. Family first.

And then, be kind to your anxiety levels.

Make your environment work for you. If your spouse is helping with Geography, Maths and English language at the kitchen table, that’s not the place for your complicated spreadsheet! Having a separate workplace on your premises like a Work From Home Space cabin allows you to separate home and work, you can even partition a cabin so that there is an area for home-schooling and one for your office.

Finally, if you share parenting and home-schooling responsibilities with your spouse, agree who does what, what is expected and when. When one works while the other home-schools, and vice versa, you’ll all get more done – divide and conquer.

2. Relaaaaaaaaaaaaax

As Oasis once sang. “Roll With It”.

Where does the day go when you’re working from home and home-schooling? Crazy! Things won’t always go the way you plan them to. Instead of beating yourself up about what you didn’t achieve celebrate what you did accomplish. Anything left over can wait until tomorrow when you’ve all slept and rested.

Adopting this approach to school work takes the pressure off the kids and YOU TOO, allowing your mind some free space to achieve the “must dos” on your work list that maybe can’t roll over to the next day.

It becomes a virtuous circle, completing important work tasks makes you less stressed for when you pick up the home-schooling baton, which creates a better environment for learning.

It’s also important to have a designated break out space for relaxation. A Work From Home Space cabin, for instance, can be used as a time out zone, as much as a work area.

3. The Unexpected Will Happen – Expect It

This actual day plan emailed by a friend, Nicole, and the reality of the same day, serves as a sobering reminder that the unexpected will happen.


9am Sit Josh at kitchen table with Maths. Me: Attend Zoom conference call.

10am Check in with Josh. Have tea break.

10.15am Josh: English. Me: Zoom Client pitch

12.00 Lunch.

The reality:

Things started well. Josh sat down and opened his maths book and Nicole was on her Zoom conference call. Soon after this though, their luck ran out. Josh had started but struggled, had a melt down and spent the hour in tears knowing that his mum was busy. She found him sobbing into his work at 10am. Nicole comforted him and went to put the kettle on where she found the dog had been through the kitchen bin, which had made the dog ill. Fifteen minutes to go to a client pitch and she had marigolds on and the mop out.

This kind of stuff will happen. Your Wi-Fi is bound to fail at a crucial bit on a Zoom call, your power is bound to go off when you’ve nearly finished your spreadsheet, deadlines will get moved, the dog will eat your bins, your kids will struggle with something in their school work and it will feel like the end of the world … expect it.

Take frequent breaks from your work – check on your children and how they are doing regularly.

Breathe, give your kids a big hug, as much for you as for them, and then do the best you can.

Accept that some days will be harder than others, but know that that this also means that some days will be easier!.

4. Create A System For Interruptions


I was on a Zoom with a colleague last week and this is what you could hear from another room.

A very LOUD – “Muuuuuuuuuuum!!”

Family first as a rule, but kids need to know how and when to communicate to minimise distraction while you are working.

A whiteboard on the wall they can walk in and write on, a notepad for questions to be asked later, a block of post it notes for thoughts and queries. These are just a few of the clever solutions I’ve heard for managing interruptions.

At work, a closed door and a “Do Not Disturb” sign are enough to guarantee you don’t be disturbed by Sonia in accounts. Things are different at home though, for a start, it’s not Sonia from accounts after your attention, it’s your own flesh and blood, someone you actually LOVE (no offence Sonia). That said, your children love and need boundaries and they need to know when you can and can’t be distracted and disturbed. They need to understand the difference between urgent and non-urgent situations.

5. Be Present For Your Children As Much As You Can And When Present – Be Attentive

It really helps to have a separate space for your work and your home-schooling duties.

In the same way that work needs your full attention, your children do too.

So, when you step out of your Work From Home Space cabin and you are not working, be as fully present as you can with your children.

There’s a lot written and said about mindfulness these days. Let your kids know that they are your top priority during times when you are not working.

And make being “done working for the day” a big deal to be celebrated. Put phones, tablets and laptops out of reach and be together

6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate, Communicate, Communicate and then … Communicate!

Everyone needs to know what is expected each day. Plan!! At breakfast or at tea-time the night before, go over the upcoming day’s plan. Be clear about when mum or dad will be available to help, and when your children will need to rely on their own resourcefulness.

Be clear about where everyone will be and when. If Dad is working in the Work From Home Space cabin between 1pm and 3pm book it out to him like you would a meeting room at work.

Communication is key. Don’t expect your Year 5 just to know that he is meant to do his Maths in the morning – make a schedule – communicate it – stick to it (as best you can).

And make it collaborative! Encourage suggestions from each family member about how to make the day ahead’s plan work best for everyone.

In conclusion, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of why you’re doing all of this. Working from home and home-learning are the perfect combination! Think about it, you wouldn’t be able to home-school from the 07.35 train into town or flying for a meeting in Edinburgh. You have a great opportunity. The best set of circumstances!

So, be kind to yourself. Working at home with children will test your patience. Be flexible. Take care of yourself, exercise, eat right, stay hydrated, and sleep!!

And make working from home – work for you. And your home-schooling needs.

At Work From Home Space, we’d love to help you achieve this. Call 0115 932 8888 to find out more.

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