So you’re still on lock-down with little ones…
I’ve been a 100% remote employee since joining the PolSource team in June of 2019, so the transition into pandemic times was easier for me than most. But while I may have the ideal home office setup and stellar WFH skills under my belt, nothing could have prepared me for full time remote work with a full time preschooler as my new little coworker.
That’s right, my new cube mate (or couch mate) is my 4 year old daughter, and while she might be a lot cuter than some of my past comrades, she comes with a lot more challenges… most of them starting with her crying “Mommy!”
So from one remote parent to another, here are some tips I’ve found help with the struggle, which trust me, I know is very real.
Schedule a break with your kids:
Whether you take a family walk over lunch, or simply book a block of time for a friendly game of Uno, plan a dedicated break together. It gives your kids something to look forward to, and my daughter gets such a kick out of making it onto mommy’s calendar.
Let your kids say hello or goodbye on video calls:
Let’s face it, the little kiddos are going to make a cameo on conference calls whether we like it or not, so give them an official moment to wave and smile – which will hopefully satiate their desire to be onscreen, and with any luck amuse your coworkers. We’re all in the same boat these days, so a quick hello is cute and acceptable, and much better than a mid-Zoom breakdown from lack of attention.
It’s OK and sometimes necessary to change your schedule:
Remote workers often enjoy more flexible hours than in-office employees, and now, more than ever, is the time to take advantage of this. I’m not suggesting you suddenly switch to the night shift, we all have meetings and deadlines to attend to, but if nap time occurs in the afternoon, try to schedule your meetings then. And if the day gets away from you because your child insisted her dolly was sick and needed your medical attention, put in some hours after she and her snuggle buddy are safely tucked in for the night.
Attempt to keep your kids on some kind of schedule:
I realize this can be a tall order on any given day, let alone during your work day, but kids thrive on schedules. Even if that schedule is currently made up of screen time and coloring books, trying to do the same activity around the same time each day will help to give them a semblance of normal in our shared “new normal.”
Use PTO for dedicated time off with the kids, and plan something special:
If you’re like me, without a possible vacation in sight, use some of your time off now to spend with your kids. We’re probably not taking a cruise any time soon, so utilize that time for family mental health breaks, and plan an out of the ordinary activity. We recently took an exciting camping trip in my daughter’s playroom. She thought it was just as exciting as the real thing, and I didn’t have to wear bug spray or find a bush when nature called. Fun for the whole family!
However you handle this unexpected dose of family togetherness, remember you’re not alone. I’ve been happy and relieved to find all of my colleagues are more than accommodating when my curly topped coworker makes a surprise visit on calls, or if I need to switch a morning meeting to the precious nap time hours. They’re forgiving of these unavoidable inconveniences, and you should cut yourself the same slack.
I hope you found this blog helpful. Please feel free to comment with your own remote parent tips!
Bonus tip: If all else fails, candy will usually buy you five minutes of quiet.