Let’s accept the fact, teeny-tiny coronavirus has managed to get the world to stand still. The medical professionals and other emergency services warriors are fighting directly and our job is to sit at home and keep the world safe. Who knew that sitting at home could save the world someday 🙂 While not everyone has the luxury to work from home, many people have brought work to home. Working from home gets even more challenging if there are kids at home. Entertaining kids while working from home and staying productive is the biggest challenge.
Well, the natural tendency is to shout at kids when they disturb you. That way they will get disappointed and you will stay irritated for the rest of the time. That’s not good for either of you. Let’s see what can be done to minimize the distraction from kids and focus on work in this article.
Change Your Working Hours
In short, get up a few hours before the kids wake up. Even if you manage to get up two hours before kids, you get this time to focus and finish the important tasks which need your attention.
I know it is easier said than done. For some people, it is difficult to get up early. Don’t just get up directly at 5 am. Get up 15 mins early every day and in less than 2 weeks, your body will get acclimatized to getting up early.
Most importantly, do not break this habit on your non-working days. This way, you will not only get productive time but also develop a healthy habit of getting up early.
Go Easy On The Screen Time
Some parents like me are strict about the screen time for their kids. My son gets only 45 mins of screen time every day. But the times are different. Now they are home 24×7 and it is very natural to get bored for kids. They are bound to trouble you when you are working.
Utilize this screen time effectively. Allow them extra screen time when you need to attend an important conference or need to get something very important done.
I have encouraged my son to record videos of him explaining something and upload it on my YouTube channel. He has developed a skill to talk in front of the camera without any script. Frankly, I can’t do it myself.
It is impossible to meet their friends during this lockdown. Maybe you can initiate a group video conference with their friends. You can do it on zoom. Sync up with the parents of other kids and let them meet virtually.
It’s OK if they get about 2-3 hrs of screen time every day. Just ensure that they don’t get it together. They should get a break after every one hr of screen time and do something else.
If they watch videos for 2 hrs every day and if you manage to get up 2 hrs before them, then you already have got 4 hrs of productive time for yourself. The half-day is done 🙂 Just make sure that once you are done working, you give undivided attention to your kids so that they don’t ask for the screen time again.
Take Turns With Your Spouse
Get help from your spouse. Make him/her entertain kids while you work. Then you take care of kids while your partner works. This way your kids get a decent time with each one of you. If you can manage 2 hrs each like this then you have just added another 2 hrs to the total of working time.
Sync up with each other in the morning and decide the timeslots with kids every day based on your schedule. Sometime, it may not be possible to stick to this schedule each time. There may be runtime emergency and your spouse (or you) may have to cancel this dedicated time with kids. It is important to stay calm and not get irritated and fight with your spouse on this. Remember that your kids are watching you and you surely don’t want to fight in front of them.
Encourage Them To Play Or Study Alone
Give them a task to perform which will take at least an hour They can play with their toys or study during this time. This may not really be the quality time for you to work as they will come and disturb you with their questions. Plan the non-important tasks at your work during this time.
Think about some creative tasks which will help in their personality development for this activity. Explain to them how that task will help their personality.
I simply give a big paragraph to write to my son if I run out of tasks. This activity increases their concentration and they get used to sitting in one place. Not to mention, his handwriting is improving too 🙂
No harm in rewarding them with chocolate or some other way if they complete the tasks. You can also start a home reward point system. Let them earn points and once this lock-down is over, they can purchase anything that they want with these reward points.
Let Them Watch How You Work
Kids are curious by nature. Let them sit next to you and observe you. It’s OK to include them in a video call too. After all, everyone is facing the same challenge. I am sure your colleagues won’t mind that.
Let them appreciate how you work. Answer their questions about your work. They will start respecting you more once they see how your colleagues respect you.
Have Plan B (and C and D…) Ready
Let’s be practical. It’s not possible to stick to the schedule every day. After all, they are kids. They are bound to get bored and they will trouble you.
In that case, have a plan B. Maybe postpone your work by a few hours and play with them. Take a break and watch a movie or their favorite show (remember, their favorite show, not yours). Play some games together. Maybe teach them how to build a Lego toy.
Just do anything to break the monotony of the schedule. If nothing works, IT’S OK TO RAISE YOUR VOICE A LITTLE TO GET THE TIME TO WORK. That should be your plan Z though.
Set The Expectations With Kids (And Yourself)
While handling infants is a different challenge altogether, they will trouble you only when they are hungry (and you are sleepy). With toddlers, it’s a different case. It is better to explain the situation and set the expectations from them.
Tell them that it is important for you to work to earn money so that they can get their toys, clothes, chocolates, etc. If they keep disturbing then you will not be able to work and they won’t get anything that they want.
Most of the times kids will understand if explained properly. It’s adults who don’t understand and set unrealistic expectations with themselves.
Let’s understand the fact that we may not be as productive as we are at the work-place. There will be disturbances from kids. There will be unforeseen delays.
Once we set these expectations with ourselves, things will be much smoother.
Remember that the kids are getting to watch your other side because of this pandemic. They are learning from you. If they see you getting panicked, frustrated or angry they will absorb it unintentionally. It is important to stay composed while working at home even when you feel like swearing and getting angry.
Let them learn how to stay calm even in tough situations. Explain how you maintained your calm even when you were angry. Let them learn the good traits from you.
This lockdown is tough for everyone but it has given a never-before opportunity to stay and bond with our families. Let’s make the best use of this time.
How do you keep your kiddos engaged? Maybe share your tips in the comments section.