Ways to nurture your child while you work
You have new coworkers.
It’s a big adjustment for you, moving from everyday go-to-work life to figuring out how to do your job at home. It’s hard when you’re in an online meeting and your toddler is melting down in the room next door. Or your school-agers are fighting upstairs and slamming doors.
Maybe they don’t go to school anymore, but hey, no problem. Being home is fun! I have my parents to play with. But wait, they won’t let me come in? I can’t sit in their lap? They won’t play? I have to be quiet? I can’t!
Or what about your child how doesn’t go to school and is used to being home all day with one parent. The house is their space. Now you’ve invaded it and are changing the way things are done.
Young children have short attention spans — about 3-4 minutes per year of their age. So your 4 year-old needs a change of activity about every 15 minutes and your 2 year-old, every 8 minutes. Also, children like to spread out, dump their toys, move from one thing to another, eat frequently and need direction from you. And they’re not very quiet!
Working at home with children requires intentional planning, flexibility, patience and a sense of humor. Here’s a tip: save your big guns (movies, video games, special activities) for late in the day when everyone is tired. Might be a good idea to keep it a surprise too.
They now go outside each morning and afternoon, have regular snack times and a ticket system for limiting tv and computer games.
The ticket system includes all the activities their daughter does in a visual schedule. It’s located at her eye level and she can pull a ticket, give it to a parent and do that activity. When it’s over, it’s over and she moves on to another ticket. So far it’s working!
Here’s a few ideas for making it work for you:
Create a space for your child in the room where you’re working.
A small table and a basket with paper, pens, pretend phone, clipboard, post it notes, books, colors, a fidget toy, etc. will give her a place to “work” with you. Change out the contents of the basket every few days to make it interesting. Have simple guidelines for being there: we will work quietly together, if mom/dad is on the phone or talking on the computer, hold your questions until I’m off, plus whatever is unique to your child/situation.
Communicate clearly when you can be interrupted and when you can’t.
Together with your child come up with a system for letting them know when you really can’t talk. For example, you could have a red and green post it notes on your door. Red means not now, green means I’m available for a minute if you need me. Maybe a little toy on your desk, a scarf over a lamp, a hat you put on – whatever works for you. And hey, before you begin the call or zoom meeting, let your coworkers and/or clients know that you’re working at home and your child is nearby. They’ll get it.
Have regular family meetings.
Even if your child is too young to contribute much, talk about how things are going as a family. Especially if you have a particularly challenging day or a day that was really smooth. Reflect on what happened, what you can continue or do differently tomorrow. What’s working as we all work together? What’s not? How’s everyone feeling? If your kids are old enough, include ice-breakers at your meeting and laugh together. Create a sense of team work, where everyone has an important role.
Connect throughout the day.
Expect the unexpected, emotions are high, uncertainty looms and we can’t expect children to not pick up on our stuff.
Hang in there. You’re going to come out on the other side of this a stronger parent, more resourceful and more connected with your child than ever. Here at Nurtured Noggins, we’re rooting for you. 😍