Thursday, July 11, 2024
The Parents' Voice

Working from home with little ones in tow

Four years ago working from home became a more normal and accepted reality. Thanks to covid people were forced to work alongside their little ones, day after day. It was difficult then to force yourself to put your career in front of your children, but also there was no choice. It’s what employers and the world expected.
Now, four years later many people remain working at home full time or in some cases part time. Thankfully, for the most part kids are at school while you are working at home. There might be the occasional snow day, PD day or sick day that you have to balance both kids and work but hopefully for the most part you are peacefully working from home.
Recently, I’ve been hearing about parents that are having a difficult time finding daycare spaces in the area. We are dealing with such a shortage of daycare spaces right now that there may be parents facing working from home with little ones. If this is the case for you I want to tell you a little story.
A few weeks ago we had to contact a company for something, when we dialed up the number to speak to a representative what did we hear in the background? Screaming kids. I giggled at the fact that the women was talking to us as though nothing was happening in the background, she didn’t mention it and neither did we, she just continued as professional as ever. How did we feel?
We thought this woman was a superstar trying to balance putting her kids to bed and handle customer service calls at the same time. We certainly didn’t blame her or feel annoyed hearing kids in the background. If this resonates for you daily, or even just occasionally, chances are that the people you are dealing with either on the phone or on zoom meetings have been where you are – take some pressure off yourself in knowing that the whole world has experienced what you’re experiencing.
I’m certainly no expert on this topic, but I’ve been looking up ideas and talking to parents that have experienced this, so hopefully some of these suggestions will work for you if or when you find yourself in this situation.
So how do you fill your little ones day while you try to work? Here are some tips I’ve found:

  • Try to organize your day around when your little one is sleepy, start your day earlier when your spouse is home or your child is still sleeping. Use nap time wisely as more uninterrupted work time. Work after hours when your spouse is home. These are ways to break up your day so that you can have some efficient work time without your kiddo in tow.
  • Have some independent games and toys available for your child. This may mean reorganizing your living space to include a play space for your child near your work space, if you don’t already have that. Some toys that may keep your child occupied are playdough, building material (blocks, straws, solo cups), busy bags * see below for example, activity books, art material (foamy stickies, crayons, colouring books, and whatever else you have on hand), reading books, sticker books, etc.
  • Be organized for the day. Pre-prepare the day’s lunch and snacks. Have fruit and veggies cut, easy snacks at hands reach, and be able to grab lunch out of the fridge or quickly reheat it. If your child is in diapers have a change station near your workstation, have diapers and wipes on hand for quick changes.
  • Try and be adaptable. If your workspace can be portable, work outside while your child plays in your yard – this is so good for a longer nap time. If your child gets some fresh air sleep will come easier and work time will be beautifully uninterrupted.
  • Plan breaks – try and spend quality time with your child on your breaks so that they can feel recharged from having had your attention.
  • Lower your expectations on everything. Remind yourself that your working conditions may be less than favourable so give yourself a break as much as possible and remember that and take a deep breath. Are you able to do exactly what you want to be doing with your child? Absolutely not. Remember that. Is your house going to be in order at the end of the day – nope. And breathe. You cannot accomplish everything – you are one person. Breathe.
  • At night congratulate yourself for getting through another day. During covid my brother-in-law went through working from home for six months. He amazed me. He worked sales and had a two-, four-, and six-year-old in tow. It was hard. He struggled. He made it and so did my nieces and nephews. Will it be easy – heck no. But you’ve got this.

*Busy bags: Busy bags are simple activities stored in a bag and ready to use for toddlers or preschoolers. To make a busy bag you simply put the materials needed for the simple activity in a bag that is easy to grab. Some ideas of busy bags are: colour matching games that use coloured popsicle sticks and felt pouches. The idea is to have the child match the sticks to the correct colour of pouch. A second idea would be put a piece of Velcro on both ends of popsicle sticks and have them Velcro the sticks together to make letters, roads or anything else. There are literally hundreds of ideas to peruse, choose the ones your little one will be most interested in. You can find a ton of ideas by searching “busy bags” and the age group of your child online.
If this is you right now, remember it will get easier.

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