Received a work-from-home mandate from your boss? Here’s how working parents like yourselves can simultaneously manage the kids while working from home.
Meet your newest coworkers: your children.
In the last couple of weeks, the world has experienced an unprecedented halt in many areas of our everyday lives. Social distancing measures have been put in place, some services have ceased operations, and some of us have been lucky enough to be able to work from home. Working from home is a brand-new ball game to some of us. Never have we had to attend to so many online meetings, we’ve got to be extra disciplined and focused, and for us parents, we’ve got our kids to look out for on top of everything else.
Working with our kids at home sounds like an absolute dream. Time spent with them is always time well-spent, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. So, implementing work-from-home mandates means more time with the children at home, right? Yes, true, but the challenge lies in balancing productivity at work, and keeping an eye on your child.
While you want to continue being as productive as you can be, you don’t want to neglect your child either. It’s normal to feel guilty when you’re little one is tugging at the hem of your pants for some playtime, but you’ve got no choice but to respond with a shush and a shake of the head. You don’t want to disappoint your child, but neither do you want to be unproductive when you’re supposed to be working.
Getting used to the new normal.
Working from home is now the new normal for us working adults. As we adapt to the new normal, we need to figure out ways to help our children adapt too:
1. Create a schedule for your little one
While you’re working your usual 9-5, albeit from home, get your little one busy from 9-5 too! It’s tempting to just hand them a tablet or a phone for them to play with, but we wouldn’t want to run the risk of contributing to excessive screen time in our children.
You could instead plan a little schedule for your child to follow. Assuming your child wakes up at around 8 in the morning, after breakfast you could get him/her to do some engaging activities – like painting or jigsaw puzzles. It could look something like this:
- 9-11am: Painting time! You could assign them a few things to paint such as a fruit bowl, their favourite cartoon character, or even a self-portrait of themselves. Make the tasks as fun as possible!
- 11am-12.30pm: Prep time for lunch. Involve your little one in some simple lunchtime cooking. Pasta, rice, or even just making a sandwich would make for a fun midday activity to enjoy with your child.
- 12.30-2.30pm: It’s back to the laptop for you so you can use this time to give your little one a jigsaw puzzle to complete. But make sure the puzzle pieces together an interesting enough image for your child to want to complete it. Disney characters or superheroes are always a fail-proof option.
- 2.30-4pm: You’ve got that big afternoon meeting coming up with your boss so this would be a great time to put junior down for a nap! Napping provides some much-needed downtime and recuperation for children and is essential for physical and mental development during childhood.
- 4-5pm: Ah the long-awaited last hour of work! During this time, you can consider giving your child some small chores to do around the house – you can start by asking him/her to arrange his/her stuffed toys according to colour/size. If your little one is a little older and past the age of 9, you can get him/her to start setting the table for dinner too!
2. Explain that you’re busy
Sometimes, words are all you need. It takes some time, but it’s well worth it. Gently explain to your child that you’ll be busy from 9am to 5pm and you’re not ignoring them on purpose. Explain to them what you really do at your job, in simple words of course. No “analysing profits” or “budget forecasting” lingo. Relate it back to your child too; just like how every child has to go to school and be a good student, you have responsibilities outside the home.
3. Leave work at work
Once you’re off work, you’re off work. With work-from-home measures in place, it’s far too easy to blur the lines between the hours. Once you’re done with your responsibilities for the day, refocus your attention on spending some quality time with your family.
Don’t give yourself the excuse that you need to check your e-mails “just in case”. No scrolling through LinkedIn either, or checking how that marketing campaign has been panning out on social media. Be present with your family once work has ended for you, and cherish the time you have with them.
Working from home is the new normal now and our children likely understand that too. It’s not every day they get to see both mommy and daddy at home all the time. Having responsibilities in and out of the home is challenging, but we are adaptable and we each can find that balance to work productively at home while taking care of our children. As the situation continues to evolve, let’s continue evolving and adapting as well.
Please remember to take steps to continuously protect yourselves and your loved ones. Wash your hands regularly with soap, avoid touching your face and eyes, and consult a doctor if you’re sick.