How to stay productive with children at home

Topic submitted by Osayi via Workfrom Slack.

It depends on the number of kids and the kids character and abilities to do things alone. I have 4 kids (aged 5 to 10). These are the things that worked for me:

  • Accept that I can not do the normal workload than I normally do
  • Go to bed early and get up early. Late the kids stay up later than usual so that they sleep in. This will give you time to work before they get up
  • Set a number of activities that I want them to do (e.g., reading, math, something create)
  • Set a number of optional activities they can select from
  • All kids have to do a learning log that I’ll check. They get rewarded for that. This is to enforce the structure
  • For the next 4 days, the kids made their own structure, combining the optional and required activities.
  • No devices until after lunch (and no, we can’t have lunch at 10am)
  • The bigger ones teach the youngest one (She now has 3 teachers)
  • Don’t care about the mess at home.
  • Every day another kid can decide what dinner will be and has to help.
  • Drawing guides and challenges have been hugely popular at my house. We might be running out of paper.
  • When the kids are awake, work in 25 or 55 minutes blocks. Ignore the kids while you are working (unless of course there is a major incident and you need to intervene so that no one gets hurt)
  • Tell them about your work. Explain what you are doing and why.
  • Make a clear to-do and small to do list. No sense having a huge list and not getting anything done. I had 3 things per day.
  • Play with them or read to them.
  • Have clear guidelines about devices. For example, today they spent way more time on them than usual, so tomorrow it’s going to be nearly nothing.

I have a toddler (2 1/2), here are my tips:

  • As Katerina says, you need to accept limitations! You won’t be as productive as you’d be by yourself, but you can still get some stuff done.
  • Plan your schedule ahead of time. If there you have mindless tasks you need to do, save them for the days where you’re sole caretaker. If you have tasks that require a lot of focus, save them for nap time, screen time, or when a partner / caregiver can take over.
  • Also be flexible, for those days when nap time doesn’t happen :slight_smile:
  • Take frequent short breaks for your kids. Try to explain, “I need to do work for a while, then we will read a book / play this game / etc”
  • Accept that sometimes your kids will get mad at you because you can’t give them attention. Don’t get mad back, just take it in stride – you need to work to support them, and they don’t understand, you just need to bear some screams and tears from time to time

I have 11 and 6 yr old. Although seams like they are old enough to handle but during lockdown its not working. My Tips

  • As said by Nick and Katerina, you need to accept limitations. You won’t be 100% productive.
  • Involve them in the household work. Pass on the ownership of few handy household work to them.
  • Reward them very often
  • If a day is less loaded spend the time with them. Make them understand that tomorrow I will have a bad day and need less disturbance.
  • Few ground rules for devices.
  • If we are stressed out so are they. From the last 3 mths my kids were not allowed out of the house. This is stressful for them too. My 6yr is used to playing with friends outside and multiple activities. Sudden change in the schedule gives them stress. They might not be able to express it out. We need to keep that in mind.
  • Sometime urgent calls many need to shuffle the Screen time too. That’s completely OK.
  • During the calls, colleagues may hear some kids noise at the back ground. That 's OK. Remember its a remote job and this is an arrangement.
  • End of the day every arrangement that is done is for our family and ourselves.

Stay at home! Stay Safe!