Kids are interrupting parents 10 times a day while WFH - Here’s how to not let it derail you

Laura Hampson
·4-min read
Kids are interrupting WFH parents up to 10 times a day, study finds (Getty)
Kids are interrupting WFH parents up to 10 times a day, study finds (posed by models, Getty)

With seemingly never-ending lockdowns, parents have had to juggle homeschooling and working from home for the better part of the last 12 months.

It will come as a surprise to no one that this juggle is disrupting parents' work, but new research has put a figure on just how many times a day parents are interrupted by their children while working from home – up to 10 times a day.

Jobs site Glassdoor has revealed that its study of 2,000 WFH parents showed that few are working uninterrupted or at peak production.

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More than 40% of respondents said they believed they weren’t doing a “good job” for their employer and even those who said they were productive while working from home still estimated that they were only 70% as productive as they would be in an office.

The Glassdoor report also found that a typical home worker was disrupted by their children six times a day on average and 13% of respondents said it was closer to 10 times a day.

A further 40% said they regularly ignore their children during the working week so they can “get on with their job” and a similar amount believed their child’s attainment levels have dropped during lockdown.

Career coach Natalie Trice says parents should "set realistic expectations" (posed by models, Getty)
Career coach Natalie Trice says parents should "set realistic expectations" (posed by models, Getty)

With further announcements about the school return date, two thirds of the respondents said they would like their children to go back to school “as soon as possible”. But what can parents do in the meantime and how can they not let these interruptions derail their work?

“Let's be honest, no parent signed up for a year of homeschooling, so what I would say first, is congratulations on making it this far,” career coach Natalie Trice tells Yahoo UK.

“I would suggest you be kind to yourself and set realistic expectations. Yes, you have got deadlines to meet and work to do, but you are not superhuman.”

Trice advises making the most of the time when kids are busy doing school work or watching telly to tick off the most important jobs on your to-do list.

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“It won't be the 9 to 5 that has been used in the past but getting in an hour of solid work while they are also working can allow you to get something done, but don't beat yourself up if you don't,” Trice continues.

“No one likes working late, but if that's when you can be more productive, give your family the time they need in the day, and catch up later. 

"This isn't going to last forever, but if you are struggling, do speak to someone, be that a client or your boss, and find a solution together, don't think you have to do it alone.”

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Charlotte Davies, LinkedIn careers expert (and mum-of-two) says there are several things parents can do to alleviate the stress of trying to juggle the employee-teacher-parent roles, including taking a reset and creating boundaries.

“Take the time to reset your at-home ways of working and home-schooling. Sit down with your whole household, kids included, and talk about what worked well (and not so well) in Lockdown 1.0. It’s a great opportunity to keep the ways of working you all liked, and to ditch the things you didn’t,” Davies explains.

“Having a delineation between your working space and personal space is important for kids and adults alike. If space allows, consider creating a dedicated workstation for your children. It’s not only a fun way for them to create their very own ‘working from home’ space, but it will also help them understand which areas of the house are for work, and which are for play or downtime.”

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If you need to, Davies recommends speaking to your employer about flexible working options too.

“The events of the last year have meant that many companies are more understanding about the challenges of working from home with children,” Davies adds.

“Almost four in 10 parents have worked outside normal business hours in recent months due to having to care for their children, and 20% of parents have cut their normal working hours, so it is evident employers are open to flexible working to facilitate this change.”

Davies says the sounds of children playing or crying in the background of work calls needs to be normalised as well. 

“The goal posts have been moved and colleagues do share an understanding and compassion that parents are not expected to have a boardroom environment on conference calls when they are situated in a busy family home.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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