Ideas for Balancing Productive Work and Family Life at Home

The New Productivity

Adjusting to working at home during the Stay at Home Order as we battle COVID-19 has presented many challenges for parents to balance home and work life, especially during working hours. Here are some ideas to consider trying so that the time can be productive and peaceful for you & your family in your home during the workday.

Of course, every family and every situation is unique as we work through this unprecedented time in our lives. But as we are “all in this together”, hopefully there are some ideas here that you can use that can help.


A proactive way to actively engage your children (in place of them perhaps “finding” their own ways to “help you”) is to think about and come up with age- appropriate creative activities that help them to feel they are contributing to you and your work. Of course, in many cases with younger children, this would be an activity that you participate in with them while explaining the value and importance of the activity. One idea we saw was a parent and child creating a “Time for Work” sign, while explaining that when this sign was hung on the den door, that means it’s time to concentrate on work.

Another parent shared an idea of asking and helping children as needed create special art for the home work space. This became an especially fun activity when the children knew the work would be seen during important video meetings by many people, and most likely admired and discussed. By letting children feel vested and valued in the importance of helping this way creatively with your work time, they are much more likely to respect the boundaries between “family time” and “work time”.

 Flexible Scheduling & Coordination

In the case where both parents are working from home, see if you can work out a schedule that can work optimally for everyone, but leaves flexibility to account for the sudden changes of the business day.

We learned of some parents who are able to work from home in “shifts”. For example, 1 parent logs on to work from 7 am until 12 pm, while the other parent cares for the children during these hours and has lunch ready. The family shares lunch together from 12-12:30 pm, and then the parents switch roles, with the other working now from 12:30- 5:30 pm, as the morning working parent takes over care for the children for the afternoon and has dinner ready. They are prepared to “tag-team” during these hours as work or family demands necessitate, but find this arrangement working for them.

Other parents with furloughed work hours were able to arrange to select the days of the week that they would work, which allowed for at least one parent to be with the children throughout the day.

A Space of One’s Own

It is important that everyone in the family have an area set up as their own space to go to when necessary. If possible, children should have a play area or playroom they know is their own to have fun it. Ideally, this area would not be their bedroom as the bedroom should be an area to encourage rest and sleep. If financially feasible, a new home addition or a basement remodel could provide this additional space.

Parents working from home may find it necessary to have an office separate from the common living spaces to conduct business and help keep a healthy mental and physical separation between work and home life.  Perhaps your home already has an area you could designate as a home office or home offices, and the help of an interior designer could help make the most out of making these spaces both beautiful and functional.

 Keep Expectations Realistic

We all understand these are very trying times on so many levels. We hope these suggestions can be of help, or help you think of creative ideas to balance your work and family life during this time. We hope you have the flexibility to adapt and adjust to these new changes and have a support team of family, friends and/or co-workers that understand and can relate to these challenges with you, and can share the ideas, the challenges & the victories of balancing home and work life during this time.