The new reality has affected a lot of people. For you, it may have happened for the first time. Now you’re working from home with your partner and kids around.
For most of us, the change requires effort. The Internet is now literally loaded with tips on setting up an effective environment for your home office.
Companies that went 100% remote share their stories, manuals, etc. (You can read our own business guide here). You, our customers and readers, shared some tips too.
I went through all this information and put together a summary. It will not work for everybody, but I hope that at least some of you will find it helpful when you’re working remotely with kids at home.
You can check out our repository where I am also sharing my own story of how I put this guide into practice.
When you work remotely with kids, your day will not be the same as it was when you worked from an office. Struggling to find peace and quiet from 9 am to 5 pm, at times you will most likely get frustrated.
You now have to do things differently. Accept it.
Most typically, you stayed at home with your partner, who also needs to adapt to deliver remote work – respect that.
Depending on your situation (household setup, kids or other responsibilities) there will be different things to cope with.
Have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine together and define your challenges. Make a list. Figure out how to manage various situations. Here is my own example.
Each of us has to find the way that suits best. Here is how I am doing it.
My kids (Alek 7 y.o., Staszek 6 y.o.) get bored, yours too? And when they do, they start fighting over something abstract like “did the dinosaurs die because of the new coronavirus”.
My wife (Anna, she’s been around a bit) is a highly-reactive person, meaning that while I can focus in virtually any conditions, she is distracted by the kids laughing in the next room.
If we don’t have a plan, we will end up somewhere dark right around Wednesday.
To reduce the number of situations when the kids go crazy and we can’t work.
This is how I plan to manage it this week (a general idea, before each day I plan the next schedule in detail with my wife):
|Time||My working time||What happens|
|5:45–6:15||0 minutes||We both wake up and prepare for the day, no working in pajamas.|
|Ready to go, me for sure, my wife needs just a few more minutes, kids sleeping.|
|7:30–8:00||30 minutes||Kids awake and self-managing, this gives me an additional 30 min before I need to focus on them.|
|8:00–9:00||0 minutes||Making beds, brushing teeth, breakfast.|
|9:00–10:00||1 hour||We both work, kids are usually self-managed without direct exposure to screen 😉 (drawing, playing with bricks, etc.).|
|10:00–11:00||1 hour||If there is no fighting and it’s too quiet, I become worried. Usually, there is something going on. We split – my wife engages in some activity with them.|
|11:00–12:00||1 hour||After the kids spent quality time with mother, another 1 hour of focus is quite realistic.|
|12:00–13:00||0 minutes||My turn. Since it is close to lunch, I will try to engage them in preparations. We eat.|
Dad, we’re hungry.
|16:00–17:00||1 hour||My wife or my console will do the thing. I can work for another hour.|
|17:00–18:00||0 minutes||My turn – Ania finishes up her stuff, I am playing some board game or FIFA 18 (only if they didn’t spend time watching screens an hour before).|
|18:00–21:00||0 minutes||Family time as usual.|
|21:00–21:45||45 minutes||They sleep. I can rule the world now. But I have strength for 45 minutes tops.|
|21:45–5:45||0 minutes||Don’t even think about work.|
This is just a framework. I accept the fact that it may not work that way every day and I am ready to improvise.
Each working day will bring specific critical moments for you and your partner – a call with a customer can be a good example. Make a schedule for each day, which takes these situations into account:
If you have kindergarten-age kids, then visualizing something abstract like a daily schedule can help things go more smoothly. You’ll need a small whiteboard, a blackboard or simply a sheet of paper.
Will it definitely save your day? Not necessarily, but it will help.
Remember the power of Thank you! Use it often. Recognize your partner and your children for the effort they make. Be kind to each other. Simple as that.
Things like this will happen:
That’s OK. Tell other call participants about your situation.
Don’t turn your camera off, you don’t have to do that. Mute your mic if you are not a speaker at the moment and your kids are just about to invade Tatooine. Ask for a short break if needed.
Remember to enjoy these little “glitches”, and don’t get frustrated. Having to adapt and work remotely with kids is difficult. You’re not alone in struggling with this.
Be prepared for the first few days to be difficult. Stay patient and supportive.
Ask openly for support.
This is a learning experience. Follow the plan but be flexible – adapt. Play with different scenarios to work out the best scheme for your family.
And most importantly – enjoy the extra family time!
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