Working from home presents challenges in and of itself. Add younger children to the mix, and you may see your productivity taxed. Here are some tips to keep family harmony and still get some work done.
- Set expectations. This is the most important thing you can do. Remind children of what is expected while you’re working. “When I’m on the phone, please don’t interrupt. I’ll help you when I’m done with my call.” Of course, setting expectations doesn’t always mean they will be met, but it’s a good first step in setting boundaries.
- Provide activities. It’s good to provide younger children with age-appropriate activities or programs immediately before a meeting to keep their attention. Some ideas include:
- Jennifer Phelan: family workouts at 9:10am (ET); Instagram
- Essem Art Studio: sing-along every weekday at 10:15am (ET); Instagram
- Pete the Cat: A Pete the Cat story read aloud Mondays at 12pm (ET); Instagram
- Oliver Jeffers: Oliver reads one of his books every weekday at 2pm (ET) on Instagram; all stories are archived at oliverjeffers.com.
- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: daily 15-minute class featuring a different animal; Facebook or YouTube
- Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium: 11am (ET) daily exploration of sea life; Facebook Live
Other free educational websites:
- Give them attention. When you have a break—even a short one—spend a few minutes with your kids. If you can give them attention throughout the day, they’ll be less likely to interrupt you on calls or during meetings.
- Take turns. If both you and your spouse are working from home, try to set a schedule that will allow one parent to be available should your children need something. Be sure to tell your children who the available parent is: “Mom’s going to be on the phone for a while, so if you need something, tell Dad.”
- Big brother, big sister. Incentivizing older siblings to help and even entertain younger siblings while you’re working is another huge help.
- Give them a break. Your child will inevitably interrupt a call or a meeting. It’s not the end of the world. We’re all in the same boat, trying to balance everything inside our homes, and the vast majority of clients and colleagues will understand. But after an interruption, take a minute to gently remind children of your expectations to help reduce repeat occurrences.