Strategies to Cope: How to Balance Work at Home With Family Time

Categories: Global Teams

Today’s “co-workers” are oftentimes a lot different than the ones we’re used to! (Photo from Sarah Cincotta) 

For many of us around the globe, “working from home” isn’t just an option anymore – it’s a necessity (and, owing to the global pandemic, often a responsibility).

For those of us with families around the house, the transition to a full-time work from home schedule can be a tricky one. Trying to balance the responsibilities of your job along with the constant presence of family members – children, spouses, parents, grandparents, and others – is a constant and often exhausting process. So, how can you balance the demands of a profession with family time while working from home?

For answers, we went straight to some experts. We’ve asked some of our Aperian Global workers experienced in the work-from-home process for their best tips to help. Here’s what they had to say:

Plan Your Day Strategically

Joyce Lee, GlobeSmart Engagement Manager: My first recommendation? Plan your day strategically, so you have some time to feed your children and set aside some small playtime with them. Develop a reward system to encourage them to spend time on meaningful, yet non-disruptive activities (reading, LEGO bricks or toys, games) and taking care of pets during work time. Those rewards could be free time for iPads, TVs, or video games, or even a small amount of gift cards.

Add in Small Breaks

Vikki Olesen, Senior Global Account Manager – My kids (they’re 12, 14, and 17), along with their homework from school, have been doing projects around the house – like cleaning out their closets – to help us out. My daughter and I also made a TikTok video yesterday! It was only about 15 minutes, so it wasn’t too time-consuming – but she snapped it to her friends, and one girl made it her story for the day.

Add in small breaks to jump on the trampoline for ten minutes, walk the dog together, or do something engaging. Carve out small nuggets of time here and there, where you can get some work done and still deliver a little time. I am also going to have them take turns planning and making dinner!

Institute More Structure

Lone Engel, Senior Program Manager – I have a 9 and an 11-year-old – and I want to start using red, yellow, and green lights for “When you can interrupt!” Also, I am going to institute more structure to the way – identifying when it’s lunch, when it’s time for a mid-morning break, and when the day is over. 

Introduce Your Kids

Mike Greto, Managing Director, Global Client Strategy: Don’t be afraid to introduce your kids to colleagues and clients on the webcam. I had a call earlier this week with a person working from home, and his kid was basically in his lap, playing w the headset, etc. We rolled with it! In the end, it built real connection and authenticity. No one wants to be that guy from the BBC!



Develop Work and Play Spaces

Nicole Ury, Product Marketing Manager – If you’re able to take shifts and trade with your spouse, go into a private working space when it’s your turn. When you trade, spend time with your children in your play space. Try to keep your status updated when your shift is off or on so colleagues know when they can reach you.

Explain the "Why" of Working From Home

Freeda Fernandes, APAC Sales – I’ve had to use different strategies as my daughter has grown over the years. Now that she is 5, it is a lot easier when I explain to her how important it is that I am not distracted. As long as she knows and understands the “why” behind my behavior, she seems to support me fully!

Dress For Work, Eat Healthy, and Much More…

Michael Nadeau, Marketing Content Writer – I’m going to approach this a little differently, as I don’t have any kids, cats, dogs, hedgehogs, aardvarks, unicorns, dragons, or Kraken hanging around my virtual workspace. However, I do have a roommate, in a spacious (but still too small) Boston apartment.

Strangely, a lot of the advice still applies! Let them know you’d like to focus on work during these hours – but say when you’ll be taking a break so you can converse and be a little bit social. Take some time out of the day if your schedules allow you to sit down and watch some TV (we watched the first episode of The Plot Against America this morning, for example). Stake a claim for your working space and make very clear its YOURS.

Oh, and as for other advice? I’ve been freelancing/working from home for years. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Don’t succumb to the temptation of sweats, shorts, and sweatshirts all day. If you dress to the casual corporate level (at least), you’ll feel a lot more professional – even if you are working from your home. That will translate. 
  • Try to eat as healthy as possible. I know your pantry, and those Oreos are right there, but leave them for a treat. Take advantage of your full kitchen! Make yourself a nice meal when you can. 
  • Get outside if you can. Go outside for a walk or a jog for at least an hour. 
  • Pick up some type of hobby to do during short breaks during the day. Do a puzzle. Play video games. Learn another language (I’m plowing through French lessons now). Use this time to your advantage.

Get Creative

Sarah Cincotta, Director, Global Marketing: My 6-year-old is typically pretty good at entertaining herself if she’s at home, and I’m working, but the last few days have been challenging, with her growing bored of her current toys and solo activities.

Together, we’ve come across two different strategies to help her stay entertained, and allow for longer periods for me to get work done:

  • Get creative with your “toys.” I found an old bin of random art supplies from college: ribbon, cotton, sponges, and other assorted items. My initial reaction was to throw them in the trash, but once my daughter saw them they instantly turned into treasures. Introducing new “toys” (even ones that don’t seem at first glance like a toy) can be a helpful distraction and a way to encourage creativity. 
  • Schedule virtual playdates. My 6-year old loves being able to run around our house virtually with her friends, playing with her dolls across the screen. This can be a fun option for kids to feel connected socially and a more interactive alternative to just watching a screen.

We know how difficult balancing life and work can be during these strange days – so hopefully these suggestions can help make the days go by a little bit easier!