The 5 Best Ways to Manage WFH With Your Kids, According to These Couples

Couple Working from Home

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
July 14, 2024 at 4:26PM UTC

Going from working in an office to working from home can be quite the transition — especially if both your partner and you are doing it together during the COVID-19 crisis. Throw children who are out of school — many of whom are taking their classes online — into the mix, and juggling working and studying from home as a family can be a mission.

That's why we've asked real couples with kids how they're managing it all! You know, actually getting their jobs done and helping their kids navigate questionable new platforms for virtual classrooms. Here are their best tips for surviving these tough times.

1. Make a prioritized plan.

"Two techniques that have definitely helped me out during this hectic time with work and the kids at home are prioritizing my schedule and planning out a whole day of fun and educational activities for the kids to enjoy," says Mike Richards, founder of Golf Einstein. "Knowing what tasks to work on first helps me use my energy more efficiently, while planning my kids’ schedule beforehand has allowed them to continue learning, remain active and stay busy during this hectic time. I’ve realized that knowing how to use my energy efficiently has helped me cope."

2. Help each other with ever more compassion.

"It's an understatement to say juggling work and our two-year-old son while being in quarantine has been a challenge," says Brandy Lee, executive assistant of CareerPlug. "After the first day at home was chaos (my son dropped a few handfuls of coins into our printer while we were on work calls), my partner and I were about to lose our minds. We decided to come up with a plan and arrange our work schedules as best as we could so we could take turns caring for and playing with our son. So far, this has helped us create some work routine and is allowing us to spend quality time with our son — especially since he isn't learning and interacting at school right now."

Although Lee says they have never had a strict routine before, their new method of taking turns is giving them some predictability in this unpredictable circumstance.

"Not every day has gone as planned, but at least there is some sort of plan and structure to help get us through," she says. "We aren't used to being together all day long, so this is both great (I'm loving all the extra hugs) and also extremely trying and exhausting. Although it's not easy, my advice to other couples with kids is to make an effort to find the positives in the situation, enjoy getting to be together more and extend a little more patience and compassion towards each other so you can get through it without driving each other crazy."

3. Organize your work in a way that you can better handle the inevitable distractions.

"My husband and I are at home with the kids during this time; he normally works from home, but it is new for me, so I’ve had to pick his brain to find some tips to keep things moving forward during this tough time," says Abby Marks. "My first and most important tip for working at home while the kids are nearby is to PLAN AHEAD! Do your kids have a nap schedule? Do they entertain themselves better after naps, after food or at a certain time of day? This will give you a little bit of a guideline for planning out your work for the day. Once you know when you will have the most dedicated chunk of time to put into your work, then you have to prioritize what you want to get done during that time."
Marks says that she finds it best to tackle any thought-provoking work or creative work during this time when distractions would otherwise derail her.
"During the times where the kids are a bit more rambunctious, I will then try to get more of the mundane tasks done where I can jump in and out of the office a little easier without having to collect my thoughts so much when I get back to work," she says. "It isn't easy, and there will be some days that are harder than others, but as long as you plan ahead and prioritize your work, you will be more efficient — even as your little ones are pulling at your feet."

4. Get more sleep.

"My wife and I and have just started working from home today with two young kids (three and a half and eight months)," says Ian Wright who, with his wife, co-owns British Business Energy. "Honestly, it's not great so far. On top of trying to run the business and look after the kids, we also have some building work going on, so half our house is out of bounds. This has been pretty stressful so far — and it's only the end of day one!"
Despite the stress, Wright's best advice for other couples is to try and get as much sleep as possible, be kind to each other and try to be understanding of one another.
"Everything is always worse when people are tired," he says. "I also think you have to accept that you're just not going to get as much work done as you would normally. Stay-at-home parenting is a full-time job, which means one of you is always going to be taking care of the kids at any one time."

5. Try to maintain some semblance of structure.

"Working from home is as glorious to some as it is painstaking to others — cue myself and my husband, respectively," says Corinne Primavera. "The thing is, I wanted to work from home, and I even had the daydream of homeschooling my kids to learn 'real-life skills' and 'do things right.' I thought that it would make the world simpler. I feel differently now, though. Even only three days in."
Primavera says that there's an appeal to choosing this WFH and homeschooling lifestyle at her leisure versus "suddenly being thrust into the role unanticipatedly and expeditiously."
"I’m learning that, without a proper plan and routine in place, I not only lack the motivation to 'get to work,' but also the self-control to avoid the environmental distractors and temptations surrounding us throughout the day," she says. "Tasks that we would not otherwise do (like cleaning up after the kids or washing dishes) create this cycle of aimless distraction and half-completed workloads. The worst part is that nowhere in that mix are the kids who are bored, dejected and reactive due to our inability to prioritize properly. Work spills over into evenings, and evenings turn into mornings and, before you know it, you’re back to where you’ve started again."

We’re navigating the new normal, together. Join us for support.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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