Tips for Working From Home with Kids
Here’s a comprehensive list of tactics you may want to consider if you’re having a difficult time working from home with children:
If your children constantly demand attention during non-business hours, do you really expect them to sit for hours at a time while you work?
We all can sometimes get easily sidetracked during work hours by phone calls, text messages, email alerts, social media. Be real with yourself and your manager. And remember, you are the main attraction for your little ones.
Have the talk
Assuming they’re old enough to keep themselves occupied, explain the situation and that you’ll need to remain focused throughout the day with minimal interruptions. Communicate to them that they are a part of the team and their role is to help you remain productive.
Practice how to act during work
Set expectations with your older children about how they should interact with you while you’re working to hopefully minimize a sudden outburst during a conference call. To minimize this risk, run through a series of simulations to prepare your children.
A few examples to try:
- If the phone rings and mom quietly steps into the office, do you run after her screaming or quietly have a seat and wait for her to finish the call?
- If the door is unlocked and you decide to enter and notice dad on the phone, how do you react?
- If mom is staring at the computer screen with “that look on her face” when you enter, do you scream your demands or politely request mom’s attention?
Set goals for your children to keep them occupied. If they successfully meet the target, offer them a reward.
Create a boredom box
Provide children with a folder of fun-filled educational activities or assign them some simple tasks, such as filing and organizing the endless piles of papers on my desk. Some children will entertain themselves for more than a few seconds at a time as long as a parent is in sight. If this sounds like your child, designate a small area of your home office as the activity station. Load it up with your child’s favorite games, electronics, and activities.
Designate an area for your “home office”
You definitely don’t want to completely isolate yourself from the children if no one else is around to tend to them, but the kitchen table won’t serve as the optimal work space, either. Search for a well-lit area in your home, preferably a spare room with a door, that will enable you to organize your files, stay on task, and minimize interruptions.
Use your time wisely
Do you have an infant or toddler on your hands? Naps may be a part of their daily routine, but they don’t need to be a part of yours. As tempting as it may be to unwind for an hour or so midway through the workday, stay on track. Utilize this un-interrupted time to the best of your ability.
Solicit the assistance of family and friends
Are there local friends or family who can help watch your children, if even for an hour or 2 to give you un-interrupted work time? Or if your partner/spouse is at home, can you each take turns working to allow the other time to work or join a meeting?
Utilize programs available to you
Programs like the Bright Horizons Care Advantage Solution are available for both in-home and center based care.
Employer Username: NewsCorp
Click ‘Details’ under Reserve Back-Up Care to find your Unique ID to register for care today Questions? Call 877-BH-CARES (242-2737).
Plan ahead and give yourself a to-do list
Always add a few hours to each project and avoid waiting until the last minute to get started. If possible, take control of your schedule by establishing your own internal deadlines, because you never know what each day will bring when you have kids in the house.
Flex your hours
Can you work before everyone wakes up? Or after everyone goes to bed? Talk openly with your manager on the challenges you may face to work with children in the house. Be creative in thinking through times that you could work and focus. Or are there some different responsibilities you could take on that may be easier to accomplish with a house-full of people and then resume your normal responsibilities upon returning to the office?
Create predictability to your child’s day
Having a schedule or routine can help create family expectations, lessen stress, build independence and save everyone time. See if you can maintain your regular morning and nighttime schedules.
Add in structured windows of free play
(e.g. create a visual choice board or checklist of available free play choices such as screens, electronics, games, toys, etc.) String several preferred activities together to increase your child’s independence in leisure activities and decrease the need for you to help them “find something to do”.