Remote work can be an absolute lifesaver for working parents who need the flexibility to wrap their working life around caring for their children. There is even evidence that moms with flexible hours make more money. Of course, one of the biggest perks is that remote work allows working parents to spend more time with their kids, leaving room for travel adventures that will leave lasting lifelong memories.
Still, being a remote working parent comes with some serious struggles, and one of the biggest ones is figuring out how to balance getting your job done with raising kids, especially since household responsibilities tend to fall on the parent who has more flexibility in their schedule.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your time as a remote working parent.
Think outside the box when it comes to childcare
While there are some remote workers who manage to parent young children, work remotely, and not use childcare, they are definitely the exception to the rule. Even though remote workers have more flexibility in their schedules, many are going to find themselves needing some dedicated time to get the most challenging tasks done without interruption. Meetings with clients, conference calls with the team, and focused periods of quiet concentration are all necessary components for most successful remote positions, and those can be hard to manage with young children underfoot.
That doesn’t mean you have to use traditional models of childcare, however. After all, many people are now spending as much on childcare as they do on college tuition, and relieving some of that financial burden can be a necessity to make working while parenting realistic.
You probably don’t need 40 hours a week of child-free time to do great work. Figure out how much you do need, and then look at your options. Can you trade with another working parent to get a few afternoons child-free? Can you find a daycare that has a two-day schedule at a reduced rate? Many gyms offer free childcare for a few hours (and free WiFi as a bonus)—you could get in a quick workout and then get your most challenging work tasks off your plate all in one trip.
Prioritize your remote work tasks by level of concentration
Whether it’s a 30-minute episode of Magic School Bus or a huge Lego project, there will be brief periods of time when the kids are awake and active but so occupied that parents can get stuff done. However, this time is often unpredictable and can get interrupted, so it’s not the best time for a conference call or a task that will require great concentration.
When you are making your to-do list, separate out tasks based on which ones require total silence, which ones require moderate concentration, and which ones are routine and can be done with interruption and background noise. Save the last ones for those times when your kids are occupied because you’ll need your quiet time for the more taxing items on the list.
Work when it works
If you are switching from a traditional desk job to a remote lifestyle, it can be hard to break free from the Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. mentality, but the best thing about working remotely is the flexibility, and that includes working when it works for you!
If you know that your children don’t normally wake up until 8 a.m., you can plan to get two solid hours of uninterrupted work by starting your day at 6 a.m. If your child has soccer practice every Saturday morning for two hours, bring along your iPad and get some work done while your child is busy. If you found a friend to trade childcare with you, but they’re only available in the evenings, reset your schedule to sleep in later and get some work done late in the day.
Remote work can be an excellent way to balance the demands of being a working parent, and planning ahead to make sure you have time for all of your responsibilities will give you the power to leave plenty of room for the most fun and memorable parts, too.