A question that is not being voiced enough, but definitely in the minds of the everyone (with kids) working from home. How do you manage kids while working from home?
Fortunately for you, we’ve thought it for you and have answers ready for you. Salini, a engineer turned writer, published her own book recently, while working from home and managing her kid. She shares her experience in finding the balance between managing children and getting work done.
– Crewscale Team
The other day, I was watching a short-story writing tutorial by famous American writer Joyce Carol Oates. She was talking about preserving one’s time and minimizing interruptions while you work. Something she told hit me hard.
Your worst enemy will have your most beloved face. It’s going to be the child you love, it could be a dog, or a cat. It’s some presence in your life you love. You can’t say no to their presence,”
I am sure this quote resonates with many of you. Especially when we are in a virtual lock down due to COVID-19. Ever since the daycare and schools closed due to the corona virus threat, most of us are asking yourselves this million-dollar question.
How do I manage my kids while I work from home?
In this article, I would give you some pointers towards how you can effectively work from home. I am an author and a freelance writer based in Bangalore. I have worked in the electronics industry for over ten years, and some part of it was work from home – especially after my maternity leave. Even though I quit engineering in 2018, I continued to work from home and have published three books. It wasn’t an easy thing with my toddler, Tara, around. But I learned a lot of things about preserving my time and being efficient even with my toddler around.
I will be honest with you. Working from home – with your kids running around, trying to attract your attention – isn’t an easy task. It’s emotionally and physically draining, mainly if you are not accustomed to the WFH set up. Even if you have full-time support, your kids still need ‘You.’ So, you need to plan a bit about how you are going to handle it. Here are a few tips, extracted from the collective wisdom of WFH parents all around the world (including me).
Children and work – how can they peacefully co-exist?
- Remember that you are no longer in the luxury of your office. In office, you might get time to check WhatsApp, Facebook, or Twitter in between work. However, while working from home, you should minimize the self-afflicted interruptions. Stay away from your phone and focus.
- In the case of smaller children, their nap time is your golden hour. Some kids (like mine) will sleep for at least two hours during the day. Maximize your efficiency during their nap time, as you are not interrupted at all.
- In the case of older children, the same applies to their playtime. Utilize the time when they are engrossed in something, least bothered about your existence.
- Put together a ‘boredom’ box. Stock it up with things that will excite your child. It need not be expensive but should contain items that entice your child.
- Don’t make the mistake of putting them up in front of the TV or mobile phone. Once this coronavirus lockdown is over, it will be difficult to break them out of that habit. Instead, introduce them to creative habits like reading, origami, balcony gardening, haiku poems, or whatever.
- If your child is old enough, sit with them, and explain the situation. Ask their help and cooperation for you to be productive. Make them feel that they are doing a great thing by not disturbing mommy/daddy.
- Don’t ever show them videos on your work laptop. Make them understand that it’s not allowed to watch cartoons/videos on your work laptop. This point is crucial in the case of younger kids.
- Make work protocols with your children. Explain to them when mommy closes the door for a while that means she is not to be interrupted. Or don’t yell when daddy is on the phone.
- I heard of a creative mother, who wears a tiara when she is on essential phone calls. She pretends to be a princess, and her toddler daughter is cautious not to interrupt while ‘the princess talk.’ Be creative or even wild. Your child will love it.
- Give incentives to your child. I know many of you will not agree with this point. However, there is no harm in offering them reasonable things if they behave well. Remember, the entire world works on the ‘effort and reward’ principle. The only thing is, don’t go overboard and offer a bribe for every simple thing.
- This point isn’t directly related to children. But, while you work from home, keep your household chores to a minimum. Don’t bother if the house is a bit untidy or you can’t make delicious meals three times a day.
Even though you have planned so much, Sometimes, it drives you crazy
It’s ok. We are all going through a difficult situation. We need to do our best to keep calm and do our work. Even if you have many tricks up your sleeve, your kids might get weary, adamant, and throw tantrums. It’s Ok to stop work for a while and take time to calm them down. A few things you can try when you think you are going to lose it.
- Take a break – calm down your wailing kid, hold them close, spend some time with them. Draw a picture or solve a puzzle. Maybe, all your child demands is just 15 minutes of your time. Give it, and they will calm down.
- Try outdoors (with caution) – Your child might weary of not being able to go out and play. Take them for a walk in a safe area, or take them for a short drive. Both you and your kid will be refreshed.
- Seek help – It could be part-time or full time. But, whenever you feel like burnt out, try to change the guard. It’s ok to ask for help. Whenever you are about to lose it, just remind yourself – it’s not a permanent set up. Things will change for better soon.
- Communicate – Communicate clearly with your manager and colleagues. If you are genuinely not able to meet a deadline, inform them in advance. I am sure most of the managers and co-workers understand the situation. But, you need to give them heads up.
- Adapt – It’s a challenging time, but at the same time, it’s exciting to adapt to this change. You will be proud of yourself for not breaking down, even if you cannot be as efficient as in the office. You will catch up soon!
What can you do to make yourself comfortable?
- Compartmentalise – try to separate your domestic and professional lives as much as possible. If you have an office room, set it up for work. Or else, create a makeshift workplace with a good table and chair.
- Have a routine – Working from home requires double the discipline compared to working from office. Create a daily schedule and have goals. Give yourself incentives if you are able to complete it.
- Convert it into an opportunity– Bond with your family. Have all meals together, and have meaningful conversations. We don’t actually realize how less time we spend with our family.
- Don’t overwork – Curb your urge to overwork. Have a clear boundary between office time and ‘home time.’ Spend the same amount of time with children as you would on regular working days – not more and not less.
- Think of the bright side – You don’t have to go through that excruciating daily commute. You are inhaling fewer pollutants. Try to look at the bright side.
Saying no to your child. it’s hard but you still need to do it
When you work from home, trying to ignore the constant demands of your kid, you might feel guilty. Yes, I know it’s difficult to say no to our little darlings. However, you need to think about the bigger picture. For you to be happy, you need to finish your work. If you are tensed about your missed deadlines and backlog, it’s going to affect how you treat your child. So, the primary thing is, you need to preserve your sanity and stay happy. You will automatically handle your child better.
A few final thoughts
- If you are finding yourself in the difficult situation of managing your child and work, you are not alone. Most of us feel the same. We are together in this. Don’t be harsh on yourself.
- Keep reminding yourself that you are locking down yourself in your home for the best of everyone.
- Be creative – more than ever. Brainstorm with your family and create habits and protocols to work efficiently. Don’t push your children away, explain things to them, and make them a part of your team.
- Be prepared for interruptions – No matter what you do, there will be interruptions and be prepared for that. Don’t get agitated over them. It will only cost you more time. Attend to the interruption and come back with focus.
- Changes are scary, but when a situation like this demand, we need to rise to it. You will be incredibly proud once you pull this off.