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Working From Home with Children? Dealing with the Impossible

by David Pinto

You could leave through the front door and sneak through the window of your office… this way, your children won't know your home… and you can finally get peace and quiet to work…

This ruse does not work for everyone, but in the age of COVID-19, devising creative tactics to get your work done while one kid is hanging on your arm and another is wailing in the next room has become the new standard.

"There might not be a playbook," said Dorey Hustler, founder, and CEO of Hubber in London. Schools were open before the pandemic, and if a parent wanted to work from home, a babysitter or grandparent might watch the kids. She pointed out that this may not be feasible right now.

"It's a mistake to put so much pressure on yourself to get things back to normal. There will be a time of change."

Here's their advice for parents starting new work-at-home careers.

Create a Workspace

If necessary, find a bright space with a closed door. Gulliver said that working at a bedroom table is superior to working at a kitchen table. Otherwise, make a designated workspace by clearing a shelf or dining room table. To keep an eye on their children, parents of babies and toddlers can choose to set up shop in their child's bedroom or play area. To shut out testy children and dogs during calls, get a headset with a noise-canceling microphone and mute button.

Divide and conquer when it comes to child care.

Is it true that there are only two adults working at home? Alternatively, how about an older sibling who can watch the kids for a few hours? If that's the case, Dowling recommends alternating shifts because it's impractical to expect to be able to run on a normal eight-hour day. She suggests that parents discuss their work schedules as a family the night before to see who is more available at various times of the day. Consider sharing babysitting time with your neighbours who are in the same boat. In the morning, you watch their kids, and in the afternoon, they watch yours.

Create some ground rules.

So you don't get caught up in a free-for-all, develop a routine. "Every day, set your alarm for the same time," advised. Make a lunch schedule for the kids and give them structure. To burn steam, assign them a YouTube workout or a dance party. "This shows your kids that Saturday isn't the only day when everybody is lounging around."

Explain to children that you have work to do and that they can assist you by giving you some quiet time. When you're trying to reach deadlines or attend meetings, keep a sign at your workstation that says "open" or "closed."

Allow them to exist.

"Leave your kids alone!" She suggested teaching them how to entertain themselves with books, art, seeding a garden, or backyard play to help them develop equality and independence. "You don't have to supervise and participate in any activity with them."

Fill a snack basket with snacks so they don't have to rely on you for anything. Lenz keeps a bottom refrigerator shelf stocked with drinks, cheese sticks, and other finger foods for her two children, ages 9 and 7.

Bursts of Work

Multitasking reduces productivity, so strive to keep work and family time apart. To keep herself and her children on track, Lenz sets a timer for 90 minutes. They are aware that she cannot be disturbed until the timer has expired. She offers to play checkers or do something fun with them afterwards to sweeten the deal.

"Communication and relationships with colleagues seem to get squeezed out when telecommuting," To remain linked and minimise loneliness, people also need to call each other. To "maximise your contact points," she recommends asking your boss for advice on communication tools. Using a variety of communication platforms to keep in touch—video, Slack, instant messaging, and Yammer—can help prevent misunderstandings. "In e-mail, body language and tone are lost."

Make it your own.

You can work early in the morning, late at night, even when the kids are sleeping, as long as the work gets done. "Take a stroll with the kids for a few hours in the middle of the day," Lenz suggested. She exercises in her basement during "sanity time" during the day. Others admit to hiding in the bathroom to check e-mail or make phone calls.

Relax and unwind.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," a mother of two small children, said. "Cut yourself some slack, parents. No shaming or chastising yourself for the kids' excess screen time. This is a temporary situation, and it's fine to change the rules."


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