Working from home with kids could be challenging at times. Juggling between office deadlines, targets, household chores, kids online classes, activities and assignments is a tough task. You might have often heard background sounds of kids screaming, giving guest appearances during meetings or just staring innocently at your desktop screen when you are in the middle of an important documentation task.
Well, kids are kids. They are facing tough times too, trying to adjust with online schooling, no peers to play with, no outdoor play and much more. So the only way to safely navigate through this situation is to organize your work schedule and household schedule in a way which suffices your professional and family needs in line with the best interest of kids.
“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out – John Wooden”
Mastering working from home with kids: 14 Actionable Tips
Dealing with work commitments while working from home with kids
Plan your day and prioritize:
Planning your day is an inevitable activity to have a productive day. Dedicate time for household chores, family and work in advance. There may be variations on an actual day but that’s ok. You will immediately realise where your time is wasted if you have a pre-planned schedule. Having a planner and to-do list is one of the habits of highly successful people. It is sure to work with you too.
Filtering what is not important:
Do not attend unimportant phone calls like junk callers for credit /debit cards or loans etc. during your office hours. Be agile and flexible with your work and try to take some breaks to attend your children. Occasionally you may also browse through social networking sites and chat with your friends, just to feel refreshed.
Focus & Commitment:
Be committed and focused on your work. If you will respect your work, the other will follow you. Ensure that your children or relatives do not call you during office hours unless it is something urgent. You may close your door and come out only once a while as required. Proper discipline is key for successfully working from home with kids.
Be an early bird:
The early bird gets the worm. This popular saying is true to its core. Getting your day started early will give you a lot of bonus time to ponder on important tasks and finish off with meal prep or focusing on an important office task which needs a lot of concentration. So get going long before your kids wake up and demand your attention. Finishing important documents or tasks early will also give a sense of satisfaction and the day will progress better.
The mindset and work culture are evolving. The leaders at the workplace do understand your commitments at home in most cases. That is the key to a successful employer-employee relationship. You can tell them your preferred hours of working and can check with them if work or flexible arrangements could be provided to you. These hours could be when your children are attending their online school or sleeping.
Keep a diary and pen handy and keep writing any idea or pending work which comes to your mind and you can check on that in your break or after office hours if that thing does not need your immediate attention and you would not want to miss it out.
Dealing with Kids and Family commitments while Working from Home
Snacks for kids
KIDS NEED FOOD AND SNACKS. Most of the times they seek parents attention when they are hungry. Sometimes they are not hungry but plain bored so need to eat something to get past the boredom. Having snack boxes with energy bars, biscuits, dry fruits, water, health drinks ready for children would save a lot of time and tantrums. This would keep them busy in case you are busy with your work and cannot attend to them when they are very hungry. Try making homemade snacks on weekends with the help of your kids and family. It could be an enjoyable task with everyone contributing to it.
Talk to your children
I have been working for over 15 years now and my children (Nabhanyu 10 years and Daksh 5 years) have grown along with me while working. Fortunately, they have been wonderful and have always understood the importance of my work and discipline required during my office calls. When they grew little older around 5, I explained to them how important is for them to be disciplined during my office hours as it impacts my productivity and output. They were very supportive of the fact and I don’t recall them disturbing me during my work unless it’s something urgent. This may be a little difficult with kids less than five years old but you can give it a try.
List of indoor activities
Most of the problems that occur while working from home with kids are due to lack of engagement that kids have in this long unprecedented staycation. Having lots of indoor activities ready for them will keep the kids engaged and there will be fewer chances of them troubling you.
Here is a list of 75 Indoor Activities For Kids to Keep Them Happily Engaged
While this may be difficult and not very safe, especially due to the pandemic, having domestic help to do the household chore or cooking helps in spending more time with kids or catering to professional commitments. For parents who can have full-time domestic help (after getting them tested for COVID-19), this would be a great advantage.
Seek Support from your spouse and kids
Family support in these trying times can solve half the problems of working from home with kids. Kids can be assigned household chores according to their age. It is the responsibility of both the parents to tend to the needs of the family. Supporting your partner in family commitments and aiding their work commitments can be a great way to enhance your relationship with your spouse.
Save your time in going out to buy veggies and groceries. Since sometimes working from home with kids can be too overwhelming. Check out for various online options with good deals to by some essentials. Nowadays, home delivery of groceries in neighbourhoods is a common practice.
Before pandemic times, I do remember sending my children to childcare when they were very young. There used to be some days when I could not take a full day leave due to official commitments and would send them to childcare with medicine in the bag. It is fine, and you need not feel guilty as child care centres (choose wisely) also take good care of them in your absence for a few hours. Be courageous and teach your children to be courageous.
Effective child discipline
Even in pandemic times, be strong and firm with your child discipline. Let your kids learn the value of patience and resilience. If you spend quality time with your kids even for an hour a day, child discipline will never be an issue.
Life is about accepting the challenges along the way, choosing to keep moving forward and savouring the journey- Roy T. Bennet
How to set up the workplace for working from home with kids?
Discipline is the bridge between goals and achievements. Make sure you are well equipped for working from home with kids and your deliverables are of utmost quality and with absolutely no compromise.
Portable or fixed study table or flat hard surface and a proper ergonomic chair are required. As we need to be sitting for long hours (i.e. need to be available during office hours)
Make sure wherever you are sitting, there is proper light for you to focus and work. The strain on the eyes often makes you feel tired faster.
Quiet & away from distractions
If possible, have a separate room where kids won’t disturb you. Lock the room from inside and instruct them not to come in unless urgent. In case a separate room is not available, fix a place as your workstation and instruct the kids (older) to keep away during work hours or engage younger kids in some activities as mentioned above, close to you.
Computer desktops /Laptops/Tablets
You need to have a dedicated machine for your work like desktop, laptops etc. Switching between laptops and devices make it harder to find documents in order. It should have a good memory and hard disc space to store your data etc.
Good Internet Connection
A high-speed internet connection is recommended when you work from home to ensure heavy downloads and transactions required for official purposes are done smoothly and do not time out. I also keep high-speed internet back up just in case if my one service provider is not working for me to ensure continuity of work.
Places where there are frequent power cuts, people can plan to have a generator, inverter, fibre optic internet connection.
To keep your files and folders, you must have some storage space near your workstation. This will help to save time by not rummaging through piles of books and documents later.
The required stationery kit should also be near you, preferably on your study table in pen stand like some pens, pencils, scale, staplers, paper clips etc.
A good telephone/mobile phone is also recommended. So that in case you are away from work, people can reach out to you on your phone and get things resolved.
Good quality earphones/headphones
Good quality headphones are a must for your verbal communication. All your office calls and other activities could be done smoothly and uninterrupted.
You may also keep some healthy snacks around you like energy bars or dry fruits and may have them or sip some healthy drink during your office calls etc. to keep up your energy levels high.
Why should we ‘PLAN’ our working from home with kids?
PIan your work so that you save some time and spend it on your hobby or with your family. Decide to work from highest to lowest priority. Good planning results in increased productivity and efficiency. Plan to upskill or get your self-trained as well to become more productive.
Delegate or Defer:
You may plan your work and defer those which could be completed at a later time. Your work can also be delegated to your colleague or peer/team if possible.
Good work-life balance
Work from home with a well-thought plan enables us to attain good work-life balance and break the monotony in life.
Plan for logistics back up
It is essential to have device and internet backups to continue your work without any interruption. Planning helps to make sure you have all updated software’s, anti-viruses and versions.
“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.”– Betsy Jacobson, Business Consultant
After all, being challenged in life is inevitable and being defeated by challenges is optional. The day we stop accepting challenges is the day we stop moving forward. Working from home with kids can be fun. A change in the way of doing things and our perception is all we need.