Home working with children present, what could possibly go wrong?

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have made the transition to home working. Whether you are used to occasionally remote working or not, parents now face the incredible challenge of working from home while the children are also present. Many working parents rely on the support of grandparents for emergency childcare, but in these unprecedented times, and in the midst of self-isolation measures, how do we cope?

What could possibly go wrong?

We all remember the clip from BBC News back in 2017 when there was an unexpected distraction for Professor Robert Kelly when he was being interviewed live on BBC News about South Korea.

Many have the idea that working from home is easy, but the reality is often the opposite. During these extraordinary times where home working has become the new normal, we need to be kind to ourselves and manage our own expectations.

We spoke to Senior HR Consultant, Catherine Hingston, mum to four beautiful boys, Charlie 8, Alexander 7, William 4 and Oliver 3 about how she is adapting to working from home with the children present.

“It helps if you have someone to support you. Luckily for me, my husband Stuart is going to be spending time with the boys to home school them. He will also take them out for walks which will create a little peace in the house”

“I have an office to work from (with a lock on the door) and if the chaos gets a little too much, I have a headset to play music and blur out any background noise”

Home working with children present

The only consistency is inconsistency!

“You obviously can’t be as regimented as you would be at work but I’m trying to stick to a daily schedule with everyone up and dressed at the same time followed by breakfast and with a daily plan in place, so they know where they stand”

“Stuart and I will operate on a shift basis; he is self-employed and able to catch up on his work on an evening when I can take over the parenting”

“My line manager is in a similar situation as myself, working from home with three young children. His wife needs to work from home too. For me it is important that the management are able to understand my situation. I cannot guarantee my work or calls will be without interruption!”

“Whilst all the planning is all well and good, Stuart and I are both aware that a fixed routine may not always work. We may need to reassess daily as the only consistency with working with the boys in the house is the inconsistency”

Keeping in touch with my colleagues

“We are using Microsoft Teams across the business to keep in contact with each other. It is a great tool which allows several people to have a virtual meeting and share screens. Our IT Manager is ‘always on’ to solve any technical glitches we may have. Maintaining contact with my colleagues is essential for me. The workplace is where I can be Catherine and not just Mum!”

“We are a sociable and supportive bunch at NRG. We are making the most of Teams for those less formal ‘water cooler’ chats too”

“I know it’s not ideal, but neither is the current situation. We understand that the children may have more screen time than normal. That’s ok, I’ll be a more present and attentive parent when I’ve done some work”

When it doesn’t go to plan!

“We face the prospect of working from home for several weeks. I’ve reached out to friends, clients and candidates for any hints and tips. Things to keep up my sleeve for when it doesn’t go to plan include:

  • Give your child a box with a full drink and healthy snacks for the day. This will prevent them from keep coming and asking you for things. It’s up to them to ration!
  • Virtual babysitters – reach out to friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents to arrange virtual playdates for your children. Use Skype or FaceTime to talk, read, play games, sing, dance etc.
  • Virtual picnic – set up FaceTime or WhatsApp group with their friends. Put a rug down and let the children have their morning/afternoon break or lunch together. This could give you an opportunity to get some work done.
  • The Maths Factor – Carol Vorderman announced this week that her digital maths school which is normally about £2 per week will be free for children aged 4 -11 whilst the schools are closed.
  • P.E. with Joe – free workout aimed at kids LIVE on his YouTube channel every day at 9am.
  • Elevenses with The World of David Walliams – free audio story from The Worlds Worst Children at 11am every day.
  • Food tech lesson – Candice Brown, previous winner of The Great British Bake Off is doing a food technology lesson each Wednesday at 2pm via Instagram.”

As we start to find our way through these unprecedented times, we will share many more helpful tips. Every day we are seeing new and innovative ways to keep us connected and sane!

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