Two boys, ages four and six. Need we say more? At a recent Women’s + Allies Network meeting, one Vale employee shared some of her struggles – and successes – with trying to work from home with young children. “The other day the boys were climbing on the cupboards eating Goldfish and candy while I was on a Teams call. I was trying my best to keep them quiet,” she said. Other parents and caregivers quickly chimed in, commiserating with their own struggles, and offering solutions.
Even though we’ve been at this for almost two years, it’s clear that childcare is still a hot topic. It’s ever-changing, and frankly, it’s a hard nut for many of us to crack. Members of the Women’s + Allies Networked drummed up some great tips and techniques, so we thought, let’s share them more widely using Vale News.
Here are five tips that we hope can help you and your children:
- Communicate. Just like the messages we impart to our children, it’s sometimes worth repeating to parents that the communication is key. Be patient, and gently remind younger children that home is for play and work, and there is an appropriate time for each.
- Dedicated workspace, for work only. Create a designated workspace. Ideally, a separate room with a door you can shut. Failing that, a partition like standalone bookshelves or a curtain are better than working in high-traffic, communal areas. Be clear with your children that your defined space is for work and be consistent with your messaging and actions. For example, if you invite the kids into your office space for a snuggle or to play when you’re taking a break, you might be sending them mixed messages.
- Sign of the times. Create a sign with words and pictures: “Great mind at work” or “Please do not disturb” or “Bringing home the vegan bacon.” Whatever you write or draw, use it as a teaching and communication tool.
- Weekday calendar. A colour-coded calendar can help illustrate when parents are working. Bonus: For kids learning the days of the week, and telling time, this can double as a learning tool.
- Flex hours. If some of your tasks can be done outside of your regular shift, and your supervisor has approved a flexible schedule, consider chipping away at office work after the kids go to bed, or before they wake.
We are in this together, and together we will get through it. There are lots of articles with tips for working from home with children. Here are a few: Today’s Parent, Harvard Business Review and Healthy Children.
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