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Managing Dependent Care

Many employees are facing the challenge of working from home while also caring for children or aging parents as previous care arrangements are no longer available. Here are some tips to help navigate your multiple responsibilities and identify effective strategies to balance your personal and professional obligations. 

Your work day may look very different at home than on campus, and it may be more difficult to separate your work and family responsibilities during the day. Be open with colleagues about limitations to your work availability and to the extent possible, maintain a daily routine that is predictable for both your colleagues and dependents.  

For some working from home is less stressful - but for others, this change is more stressful and increases the demands and need for multitasking. It is important to monitor yourself for changes in mood, appetite and stress levels. Consider some of the wellbeing suggestions and remember employees with benefits can access Ryerson’s Employee and Family Assistance program for support with both your work and personal well-being.

Employee best practices

  • Will you need flexibility in the time of day in which you get work done?
  • What has changed for you in terms of caregiving support?
  • What does a typical day look like now?
  • How much supervision do your dependents require?
  • What hours will work best in your situation?
  • What days would work in your situation?
  • What scenarios might arise?

Ask your leader:

  • Will my work priorities change?
  • What flexibility is available to me given my dual responsibilities as a result of working from home right now?
  • What if I need to take time off if a dependent becomes ill?
  • What are your expectations regarding the hours I will work? Will I need to plan for scheduled uninterrupted work time, and how much?
  • How will my total hours worked change, and how will this impact my pay?
  • When should we meet to re-evaluate our agreement?
  • What’s working well?
  • Where are the challenges?
  • What barriers are you running into?
  • How have you been dealing with them?
  • Do you need your leader’s help resolving any barriers?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Have you been able to devote sufficient time to self-care?

Home child care tips

Create a family schedule 

Work together with your kids to build a daily family schedule, maybe on a dry erase board with activities on sticky notes.

Review the plan daily

Start each day by discussing the plan – share when your meetings are and when you are/are not available.

Consider creating rules

Consider developing rules as a family to ensure everyone gets their space.

Review your technology resources

Are there enough devices for the entire family, and how will device time be shared among family members? Will your internet connection support online learning activities for your kids?

Explore online learning 

Find online learning resources to help your children keep up with learning while staying at home.

Schedule virtual play dates

This can be done via telecommunication tools to help kids stay connected with their peers.

Connect with other parents

Crowdsource ideas online and through your network.

Be mindful of social isolation guidelines

If child care must be arranged (for example, if you need to leave the house to buy groceries and have small children at home), avoid babysitters who are in contact with multiple families and do not ask vulnerable individuals such as the elderly to provide childcare.