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06th April, 2020
I remember when had my first baby working from home seemed like the only option because I didn’t want to leave her. How naive I was. Now I look forward to those days I get to go into the office, drink hot coffee, go to the toilet alone and have adult conversation with no children TV presenters in sight. I do miss them, but this time away really helps to recharge the batteries.
Although it can work for some people, working from home with kids is very difficult and takes a lot of pre-planning and organisation. If the children are older it can be easier, but they still require attention and feeding occasionally. If, however like me you have a 2-year-old and a 4 year old it can be near on impossible.
Now with the current situation being how it is, a lot of parents are unexpectedly working from home with little ones and it can be a bit daunting. Don’t worry, here are some handy tips and ideas on how to keep the kids entertained and work around them.
Although being stuck in front of a movie for hours upon end might not be what you want to do with the kids, sometimes it’s ok. Remember this time is not normal so you don’t have to panic about screen time as much or just letting them have a break and a treat. They will no doubt be feeling confused and maybe scared during this time so allowing them some time to unwind and just watch a movie could be as good for them as it is for you. If that also means 4 hours of Peppa Pig or Mr Tumble, then that is ok as well. Don’t feel guilty or put too much pressure on yourself. We are all doing the best we can.
Now is a great time for them to get stuck into some crafts. Some of our favourites which keep mine entertained for hours are:
Put some old clothes on them, a big dust sheet down or some bin bags and let them create some wonderful art. Messes can be cleaned up but memories are forever.
For an even less mess option, let them paint in the bath. As long as it is water based paint it will wipe away and the kids are in their ready for a bath straight after.
2 parts flour, 1 part water and 1 part salt. Mix adding the water slowly and then knead. Once you have made it let the kids make what ever they want. We use cookie cutters in different shapes, rolling pins and cake decorating tools. This is suitable for all ages and will keep them busy for ages. Once they have created their sculptures, pop them in the oven for 2-3 hours on 100 degrees or you can leave them to air dry over night ready to be painted another day.
Take a little time out to make some cookie dough and let them make it in to shapes for you to bake for them after. Why not bake some cupcakes and let them decorate them with icing and sprinkles.
There are some great ones online for kids to do with things they can find around the house or you can create one yourself. Ask the kids to find something Blue or beginning with p. Another great game they can play on their own giving you some time to crack on. They will also feel like you are interacting with them because they will have to bring the stuff to you. Just think of the time praising them as the time you would have spent talking to your colleagues.
I love a party; any excuse is a good excuse. Luckily my kids are in full agreement. We often ditch the conventional Lunch or dinner time meal for a picnic or buffet followed by of course throwing some awesome moves in the living room. Now as hard as it is not to join in, I must resist when I have things to do. Instead we turn it in to a dance competition where I am the judge or a game of musical statues.
If you are lucky enough that your children still nap, as much as it is tempting to take this time to just catch up on some TV or clean the house these things can wait. Take this time to work without having any interruptions. Your focus will be so much more that you may even complete all that you need to do that day.
One thing that can take up most of my time when looking after the kids is making snacks and meals. One idea I have seen which is amazing is to give the kids a snack box each with their daily rations and let them self-regulate. This can work great and teaches and gives them a sense of responsibility. Give them a water bottle and yes you may have to top this up occasionally, but it will stop the constant asking for drinks.
Prepare their lunches the night before and if they are old enough, they can help themselves. If not you have still saved a lot of time.
Batch cooking can be great for when you need to take time out from cooking in the week. Just get it out and pop it in the microwave. Another idea is to get them helping. My kids love to make veggie kebabs, I chop the vegetables and they pop them on the skewers. Sometimes they will eat them raw so even less time. Get them to make their own pizza’s. You can pick up Pizza bases from most supermarkets. Prepare the toppings the night before and get a bag of grated mozzarella and put the sauce on yourself. (We use tomato puree with some oregano and garlic powder.) They will be busy for a while and then have a quick dinner to just pop in the oven. They will love that they made them themselves.
None of us asked for this situation and sometimes it is going to feel impossible to get anything done. We are all going to feel a wide range of emotions and pressures. Be kind and honest to yourself. Listen to what you need and how much you can accomplish. If it is less that you would normally complete at work, talk to your manager. This is not a reflection on your work ethic, it reflects the current difficult time. Your manager should understand, they may even be having the same feeling and issues you are experiencing.
If you employer doesn’t understand, doesn’t make allowances or is unwilling to provide extra support, then maybe they don’t deserve you. You have not changed from the hard working and dedicated employee, your surroundings in which you work have changed and although this might not seem like a big change retrospectively to someone without kids, to a parent this can be the difference of being able to work or not at all.
Maybe this is the time to really think about whether your employer cares about your well being and work/life balance. If you think the answer to this is no, give us a call. We know clients who will put you first and accommodate you to achieve your best. Being a parent is a full-time job, demanding, rewarding and full of love. No job is worth jeopardising it.