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Working at home with tiny colleagues

These are unprecedented (and trying) times with parents working from home with kids. Some days are better than others. Every day is a new day trying to keep kids entertained and educated while getting your own work done.

Need some tips?

One of our parents who has worked from home admits it was a learning curve and agrees that not all systems or suggestions will work with every mum or dad or, indeed, every child.

Here are some of the top tips Megan, a recruitment consultant in ICT, has applied with her darling six-year-old daughter. If you’re working from home you might find these tips helpful for maintaining household sanity.

  1. Create workspaces so kids know where you work and where they learn

“I created my own workspace and one for my daughter and I explained the different zones to her so expectations were set,” says Megan. “I also explained how important it is that I get my work done and that my daughter gets her schoolwork done, in our respective zones.”

  1. Operate as much as you can as though the kids are actually going to school

“I pack lunch and recess and afternoon snacks the night before, as I normally would, and then set timers so my daughter knows when it’s food and break time,” says Megan. “Otherwise the kitchen is closed.”

  1. Set expectations

“I explain to my daughter when I’m calling someone for work and say how important it is not to disturb me,” says Megan. “With video meetings, she understands that the ribbon I place around my wrist, which is inconspicuous to others on the call, means I can’t be disturbed.”

  1. Establish routine

“We get up at the same time of day as if we were going to school and work, and we get dressed—no pjs during weekdays,” says Megan. “We eat breakfast and start our official day when we normally would. We also take breaks together at around the time my daughter would as if she was at school—mid morning, lunch and mid-afternoon. It’s a familiar pattern to her. It also gives us both a break, let’s us spend time together and is a chance to get a bit of fresh air and exercise.”

  1. Rewards system

“For strong effort made, I offer my daughter rewards and they don’t all have to be a big deal,” says Megan. “It can be making her fav food for dinner, going for a walk with her … whatever is of interest. I also give small rewards, including stars, that accumulate for bigger rewards like Kids Netflix or getting a free choice to pick an inexpensive toy online.”

  1. Be clear on educational outcomes

“Talk to your school about their expectations for home schooling,” says Megan. “I found this very helpful. I discovered that my daughter’s teacher doesn’t expect me to become a teacher. The school has limited tasks and has  kept them to a bare minimum. Then I encourage my daughter to learn through play. Don’t be afraid to talk to teachers and ask for ideas and advice. They also want the best for your child.”

  1. Exercise with the kids

“Exercise is good because it keeps kids less hyper—keeps them calmer,” says Megan. “It also gives you a chance to talk about what it’s like being educated and working from home. It’s also good for everyone’s physical and mental health. Even talking a stroll around the block is worthwhile.”

  1. Manage your expectations

“Despite all the things I’ve put into place, working from home with my daughter isn’t always perfect or settled,” says Megan. “You have to accept that you won’t be able to plough through work as quickly as you can when in the office. With a bit of practice and persistence, things can get better.”

  1. Don’t be super hard on yourself

“Again, with all the best intentions and best-laid plans, some days will be more down than up and you can’t beat yourself up over it,” says Megan. “Flexibility is key in this ‘new normal’ and it never hurts to just move on and start freshthe next day.”

  1. Be honest with your boss on how matters are unfolding

“Ask for support if you need it and be genuine and honest about how you’re managing with deadlines and expectations. Your boss will appreciate you being upfront and may be able to lend a helping hand in some way,” says Megan.

Do you have ideas?

Do you have ideas on working from home with tiny colleagues? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Send suggestions to use at

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