Working from home with kids around

Taking a walk around the neighbourhood

The initial strangeness of working from a home office again has worn off and I’ve settled into a routine which is going pretty well.

I’m at my desk around 8.30 having already drunk the first coffee of the day (which is kindly delivered to my bedside table), read Morning Prayer, skimmed the news, showered and dressed, pretty much in that order.

I’m lucky to have a room to myself to work in. It also serves as a general storage room/junk room but the fact that I can shut the door makes it so easy to focus on work during the day.

People pop in and out during the day to get things off the printer, which sits beside me, and I’ve been enjoying a full lunch break (rarely did that in the actual office) but apart from that there’s nothing to interrupt my focus except for a general rise in noise levels from 3pm when online schooling is finished. I definitely try to make sure any important phone calls are done before then!

It’s nice to be able to join one of two of the kids for lunch in the sunshine-filled courtyard at the front of our house, or I’m working through until later, to look out the window and see them sitting there, chatting over their two-minute noodles or sandwiches.

I suppose one small downside of working from home (with kids around) is that I seem to spend part of my lunch time cleaning up whatever mess they’ve left in the kitchen from theirs.

The other negative is not really about working from home, but the restrictions in general – interviews especially can be done over the phone, and I often do them that way for efficiency’s sake, but I miss getting out and about and covering events or doing face-to-face interviews on a regular basis.

It’s been interesting to hear from other people how their various working situations are going. I was talking to someone today who seemed very aware of both advantages and disadvantages of working remotely. At least in our jobs, we have the option – many don’t. And many sadly have lost their jobs or had days or hours cut during the pandemic lock downs and economic downturn.

My mother is one of the latter, along with everyone else in her workplace she now has an hour’s early mark every day, but for a few reasons she’s quite happy about that.

Here are my three quick tips for working a 9-5 job from home with kids around:

  1. Don’t attempt to be very productive with children around who are under 7, have special needs or are feeling anxious or overwhelmed by the current change in circumstances. Unless you have a helpful adult at hand who can fully take charge that’s just setting yourself up for a frustrating day!
  2. Have a fairly consistent structure, some kind of quick and easy plan for dinner, and take breaks to hang out with them.
  3. Let them know they can get help from you, or go for a walk, play a game etc. at lunch time or after work. (That’s where the quick dinner plan comes in, unless what they are hanging to do is make dinner with you.)

But if you’re like me you don’t really need the tips because we’ve all had several weeks to figure out what works ok for now!

If you’re working an office job from home at the moment, how are you making it work?

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