Stress is a normal part of parenting. However, while working from home, a parent may start notice they are becoming more frustrated with their children, being less patient, irritable, yelling, or experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches or excessive fatigue.

Q & A With Amy Seay, Ph.D., Child Psychologist

Dr. Seay shares her insights about signs and symptoms parents should be aware of, as well as resources for additional help.

Q: I am working from home while trying to care for my kids. Any advice?

Let’s be real, if you are a parent working from home, it is not easy to balance being present enough to manage your child’s need of food, entertainment and safety while concentrating on your work at the same time.

You might be hearing a lot of “watch me” or “why do you work instead of playing with me,” consider replying (likely 37 times) “I’m home to make sure that our family stays healthy and well but I still have to work” (and try to follow up with an expectation for when you might be able to take a break).

Here are some additional tips for working from home:

  • Try to set boundaries
  • Try to make your workspace a kid-free zone if possible
  • Take a lunch break at the normal time and other breaks you typically give yourself (then increase them 2x or by 37, because well…kids)
  • Make a list of things to get done
  • Set a goal of responding to messages by a certain time
  • Try to set and implement stable logon and logoff parameters for yourself

Liz Pulliam, Psy.D., a psychologist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Dennis Developmental Center and associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, adds - I like to reframe working from home as an opportunity to spend some special time with their kids.

Keeping kids busy and spending time together can help take the edge off of the stress, and leave less downtime for boredom that can lead to frustration and misbehavior. 

Parents taking moments for themselves can help, such as putting the kids to bed early so they can catch their favorite TV show alone, enjoy a late dinner with their partner or friend, going for a drive or a warm bath while listening to their favorite music. Reaching out to friends or family by phone to talk about their day and have their frustrations heard can help. If a parent feels the stress is becoming too much for them to handle alone, reaching out to a local mental health provider for assistance is an option.

Going for a walk, a picnic, a hike, a bike ride, or playing a game together in your own yard are all great things to do. Baking, crafting, board games and other interactive activities away from screens can also help reduce the stress of working working from home.