Wrangling Children While Working From Home

I have worked from home with my daughter, who is turning 3, for the better part of her life. When I opened my business, I would tell people she is my business partner. And very much so, she in many ways is. She sits next to me on her V-Tech computer pretend to work, while I am writing. Or she talks on her phone when I am on business calls. She does get bored of these things though and so I have learned to become creative in my approach to successfully working at home with a toddler. I would safely say, I have become an expert in wrangling my daughter while remaining productive at work.

Therefore, I thought I would share a few of my tips/tricks/secrets to help those who are now facing this daunting task.

Keep Your Humor

We are all facing the unknown. We are all stressed. We are all a bit scared of what is to come and rightfully so. Adding children to the mix, while also learning how to work from home can be stressful. But the blow can be lessoned by remaining present in your day-to-day and learning to laugh at the nuances that will happen because kids will be kids.

Therefore, the key to mentally surviving this time is to take it all in stride and laugh at the silly things that are bound to happen when you are working at home with your children. Rather than stress or worry about the happenings, roll with the punches and laugh about them. Humor and laughing can be great food for the soul.

Just the other day, my daughter sat quietly playing with what I believed were her toys, while I focused on work. It was sometime before I realize she was actually playing with my pen she had covertly stolen from my desk and right from under my nose. And by then, she had successfully given herself a sleeve tattoo on every single limb, as well as her feet and hands. Tattoo was her term. I asked her “babe, what are you doing.” She said “tattoo, like you mommy.” I could have flipped my lid, but instead, I giggled and let the tattoos stay. She was very proud of her artwork and so I didn’t fuss about cleaning them up. I just chucked, shook my head and let her be proud. We aren’t going anywhere, I figured, so who cares? But, this will be such a cute story for me to tell when she is older.

Find Busy Work Activities For Them

Be sure to check out Pinterest for fun, easy and inexpensive “busy work” activities for kids. A few of my daughter’s favorites include; a makeshift water table, with plastic cups, bowls, toys, and ice cubes. This keeps her busy for hours. I put a few towels down on the floor and let her go to town. Another of my daughter’s favorites is pipe cleaner fun. I give her a colander, a bunch of pipe cleaners, boxes of different sizes and wallah, creative fun for hours, or maybe minutes…it depends on the day.

The point here is, there are all sorts of fun, creative and inexpensive busy work activities you can prepare in advance to keep the little bundles of job stimulated and occupied. You may have many of the items needed for the activities in your junk drawer or pantry. All you need to do is search “busy activities for X-year-old” and you are presented with 100’s of inexpensive activities that will keep your child occupied for hours and allow you to keep your sanity.

Take Lunch & Work Breaks With Your Kids

My daughter has become pretty good at playing independently, while I work. She is always near because of her age, but none the less she can play rather independently when needed.

But she does still need mamma time and so I make it a point, to stop working periodically throughout the day, including lunchtime to spend time with her. At lunch, we prepare our food together and then sit down to eat together. When the weather warms up, we will take picnic lunches in our backyard. At break-time, we may work on a little craft project, bake some cookies or go for a walk.

The point here is that I take the time to be present with my daughter throughout the day. I schedule time on my calendar for breaks, and lunch in order to be present with her and to fulfill her needs of attention, love, and affection. And because her needs are met, she is more capable of playing independently when I do need to focus on work.

Phone Calls & Web Conferencing

Most likely you will need to make phone calls or be a part of a web conference while working from home. So what do you do?

First, let me say, demanding silence of your children will most likely result in them behaving in the loudest possible way possible, so don’t do it. Also, placing any form of tape on their mouths, or hog-tying them, may not be the best route either. Don’t do it. But you can prepare. I give my daughter her busy work project, then carry on normally. I also inform the person or group I am meeting with, that I am working from home with my daughter and they may hear a bit of crazy in the background. I continue to let them know all is under control and they have my complete attention.

Often times, because I have prepared with busy activities, she doesn’t make a peep. But there have been the times when she makes an unexpected appearance on a video call, waving hello to everyone. As well, there have been occasional “emergencies.” Most recently we had an outburst as a result of potty training. I was on a call with coworkers and out of the blue, my baby girl came running to me, screaming ….I gotta pee, I gotta pee mamma, I got to pee! I giggled and embarrassingly explained, “We are potty training.” I then swooped her up, ran to the bathroom, placed her on the toilet all while continuing my conversation. Which leads me to the next bullet point…

Flexibility

You can be prepared, plan activities for your child’s day and yet things are just going to happen. So be flexible and don’t sweat it. Everyone is going to understand. We are are all facing times of uncertainty and change right now. People know schools are closed and the kids are at home. They aren’t going to judge you or think you are any less professional just because your kid yells they “gotta pee” at the top of their lungs.

Look at it from this perspective, everyone is stressed, potentially worried and unsure right now, and so hearing a kid say “the darndest things” is only going to offer people a break from their stress and worry for a moment of joy and laughter. Everyone needs a good old belly laugh from time to time, so don’t sweat it.

I wish you all health and happiness. We will overcome this and we will get through it. Things will return to “normal.” Until then please remember to take the time to laugh. It really is good medicine. 🙂

I imagine many of you have some “good stories” similar to mine. Please share in the comments. Let’s all have a healthy dose of laughter.

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Wrangling Children While Working From Home