8 Ways To Split The Parenting Load When You Both Work From Home

With changes in work culture, more and more people are now ditching the office in favor of working from home, with the Office for National Statistics reporting that, in the U.K., the number of people planning to work remotely shot up by 12 percent between April 2021 and February 2022. Of course, while working from home has its perks, it isn't always easy. Throw in parenting simultaneously on top of that, and it's even harder. In fact, a 2020 Pew Research Center survey of 10,332 US adults found that half of people surveyed who had kids under the age of 18 admitted they found it difficult to get their work done at home with the distraction of parenting.


Of course, figuring out who's responsible for what aspect of parenting can be especially challenging if one or both parents were not used to being around the house during the day. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can make splitting the parenting load easier. 

Know where to go

When you're both working from home, parenting and working simultaneously is not optional.  It's important your children know who's considered to be on duty, or the primary parent at any given time when you and your partner are both working from home. One of the easiest way to do this is to carve out a specific area in the house dedicated solely to work purposes. If one parent has an important meeting or something they really need to focus on for a while, for instance, it may be a good idea for them to work in that separate room for a while, while the other parent remains in another room with the kids. Having periods of work time without interruption is key to ensuring you stay productive at work. Separating yourselves into different rooms also lets your kids know who's in charge at any given minute and who to go to when they need something. This will lower the chances of them bursting onto the scene while a person's on an important work call (who could forget that infamous "BBC News" interview that went viral in 2017?).


To keep things fair, make sure you and your partner both establish specific hours where one of you can work uninterrupted, no matter how different your jobs are. During this time, see if the other parent can work with the kids present in the room. Perhaps they can assign the kids a specific activity to keep them occupied so that they are not distracting from their own work.

Get into a routine

As we know with children, it's all about routine, routine, routine.  As Parents.com notes a solid routine can empower children to be confident because it helps them understand what is expected of them. But a routine is also a great way to ensure you and your other half have equal amounts of time working and taking care of the kids.


If you both work full-time from home, splitting the work week into certain days where one person is predominantly in charge of the childcare and vice versa can help clarify expectations and keep everyone accountable. You also don't have to split it by full days, either. Some parents may prefer splitting individual days into morning and afternoon shifts. Know that it doesn't always have to be a perfect 50-50 split. If one of you feels more comfortable taking more time with kids one week, that's absolutely fine. Just make sure you both communicate about your needs and ensure you have plenty of time to get your work done.

Having set expectations for who is doing what at a given time will also make it easier for your kids to understand who is available. NBC recommends having a visual schedule plastered somewhere like a whiteboard or refrigerator can help so that the entire family can see where each parent is at a given time.


Be as flexible as possible

While it's a great idea to maintain a regular schedule, it's vital that you and your partner can be flexible when you need to be. As any parent knows, being able to adjust to sudden, unexpected changes at the drop of a hat is imperative. That may mean occasionally having to push a meeting back to accommodate an upcoming deadline your partner has, or your partner agreeing to work later and take care of the kids while you finish off something like an important presentation.


One of the nice thing about both parents working from home is that it's easier to be empathetic to each other's needs as you both understand how difficult managing both work and parenting tasks can be. To keep things fair, it can be a good idea to take shifts in turns — perhaps your partner is on full time parent mode in the morning during your most important work tasks, and vice versa. Being able to show up for one another can be one of the most important things you do while working from home at the same time. Not only does it show you value one another's time and careers but also shows you value one another as parents.

Make lists

Lists can never be a bad thing — particularly when you have a lot on your plate! When you're working in your own home, it can be particularly easy to take on domestic jobs without even realizing it, which can sometimes lead to an unequal split of the workload even if you're both home all day. Creating lists of what needs to be done when it comes to the parenting and career work load will allow you and your partner to be clear about who is expected to do what, which can prevent any resentment that may arise if one person feels they've taken more than their fair share. It will also help you both stay more organized and ensure that things don't go off the rails throughout the day.


As you begin to make your to-do lists, it helps to be as specific as possible, ordering your tasks from high priority to low priority. While tasks like ensuring kids lunches are prepped for school would fall under high priority, it's totally fine if what's considered high priority tasks in your household is different from someone else's. Perhaps ensuring the dishes are cleaned every night is imperative for you. Low priority tasks would be things that are non urgent and can potentially be interrupted; perhaps it's laundry. In any case, make sure each parent is assigned a duty so that everyone is contributing. 

Remember communication is key

Let's be honest, working from home and taking care of kids is hard no matter what kind of job you have. There's pretty much no way around that. So, it's important that you and your partner manage your expectations when it comes to what things are actually going to be like. Families that have one parent in the home all the time and another out at the office likely have a different agreement for how parenting duties are divided. Try not to compare your average day to that of other couples you know who go into work every day or only have one parent working from home, because that reality isn't yours.


One way to manage expectations and maintain balance is to do period check ins with your partner. This gives you a chance to really see if the current schedules or routines you have are working and show your partner your support. Remember, you're both on the same team here!

With both of your expectations managed about what you will and won't be able to get done in the day will make it easier to split the parenting load, as it will make it easier to divide up tasks. Not only that, but by accepting things probably won't be perfect while you're juggling such busy days, you're more likely to cut your partner some slack if they don't do things with your kids the way you would have.

Know when to seek help

Even with the second parent present, between having to keep up with work tasks and holding up the emotional and physical labor of parenting, it's still very easy for one or both parents to feel overwhelmed.


It's important to know that if it gets to that point, there's absolutely no shame in asking for extra help. Whether it be calling on a friend or family member to lend a hand while you both lock yourselves away for meetings, or hiring a nanny on a more regular basis because you have time slots that can't be disrupted, taking action to balance your work and family home life appropriately can make a world of difference. This will minimize the potential of feelings of resentment, sadness, or anger arising. How much help you ask for can be totally up to you too, depending on both of your needs. If you know you and your partner get very busy with work on Monday mornings, you could ask a family member to pop round and help out for that period. If you know you both need a break on a Friday night after a hard work week at home, it may be worth it to hire a part-time nanny to help if it's within your budget.


Schedule some breaks

For many work-from-home parents, being around each other and the family all the time can take some adjusting. If you're someone who was previously used to working in an office and having your own space, it can be tricky to not feel pressured to provide constant attention to your partner and kids at home.


However, one way to ensure you're not over giving is to make sure you take some time to step away from work (both career-related and parent related) for a quick break.

Unlike families with only one parent working from home, both parents being present allows for greater flexibility for getting out of the house when the children are around. Try to use that to your advantage by taking your own separate lunch breaks whenever you can, even if it's just taking a short walk outside. Remember that your other half is there to help you and ease the burden when they can. Having a scheduled break will also help you set boundaries so that your partner and kids respect your need for rest. You'll then be able to head back home feeling a little more relaxed and refreshed and ready to do the same for your partner. 


A few other things you could do during your lunchtime step away? Enjoy a quick workout class, pay a visit to a friend, or head to your favorite local eatery or beauty spot.

Be present

While developing scheduling uninterrupted alone time is important, don't feel that every single second of the day has to be spent doing parenting shifts separate from your partner. Try seeing if you can lineup your schedules to where you're both working on tasks together in the same space. This can be helpful is one parent is new to working from home and isn't familiar with certain parenting tasks or how much work actually goes into them. As noted by Maddie Eisenhart for NBC News, "If they don't see the things that you're doing, they have no way of knowing what's being done, they have no way of knowing what needs to be done."


Even though you'll both still need to keep an eye on your laptop or work phone, of course, just sitting in the same room will keep your spirits up and likely make it easier to split the domestic workload. So, why not use quieter times in the work day to show your partner how you get your son to finish his vegetables or demonstrate the best way to get your daughter down for a nap. They'll be following in your footsteps in no time.