Working from home with kids
So you’re an office-going parent who’s been “promoted” to WFH parent sans help at home thanks to the increasing number of Covid-19 infections. With preschools and childcare centres now brought to forced closure, here’s a quick survival guide for all parents being thrown this curve ball.
We present to you some top tips on how you can pull double duty and be both a parent and hardworking employee until this stay-home period ends.
Read our other parenting tip articles here:
- Free educational apps for kids ages 0-13
- How to handle a tantrum as told by experienced preschool teachers
- Common first-time parenting mistakes
- Guide to having a baby in Singapore
1. Wake up earlier to work on difficult tasks or projects
Office life might have gotten you accustomed to a peaceful, air-conditioned eight hours in the office and one blissful hour of lunch, but working from home with kids will sink you back into the tumultuous months of your maternity or paternity leave.
For braveheart parents chionging the WFH life without any help at home, it pays to plan your work around your child’s daily routine. This means that if your toddler usually wakes at 8AM, you might want to consider waking up a whole hour and a half earlier to complete some work while you have total peace and concentration.
Work on getting complex tasks out of the way during this time, and leave the “lightweight” work for when your little is awake and on the move.
2. Plan easy daily meals ahead of time and prep the ingredients needed night before
When you’ve got diaper changes, multiple showers, and an infinite number of questions to answer on top of your work responsibilities, feeding yourself and your little human is another daily task you can’t afford to waste time on.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t julienne a carrot to save your life, stick to a couple of quick and easy one-pot recipes you can throw together to feed both you and your young one. It could be as simple as throwing carrots, onions, corn and chunks of chicken into a pot and boiling until you’ve got a hearty soup that’ll go well with rice or noodles.
Plan each meal the day before and do all the prep work the night before and refrigerate. All that’s left is popping it into a rice cooker with some water 30 minutes before meal time and you’re set!
3. Set up different play activities to buy yourself quiet time during wake hours
Sensory play station ideas with the IKEA Flisat table
Image credit: @little_play_ideas
Even with mealtimes and nap times out of the way, you’re looking at a solid 7-8 of keeping your kiddo entertained. And while cartoons and those hour-long YouTube kid video compilations work wonders to keep kids quiet, you don’t want to drown in bad parent guilt at the end of the day.
Paint station for Ellie who is 2 years old
Image credit: @elliesheananigans
From finger painting to educational games, prepare different activity stations around your house so your child can move from one to another when his or her attention runs out. Depending on how well your child is able to play independently, you’ll be able to buy yourself around 0.5 – 1 hour per activity to get work done.
4. Make full use of nap time
While lunch time might’ve signaled slack and snack time for corporate you, domestic you will need those sacred hours of tranquility to churn out as much work as possible. Exhaust your child well enough in the morning, and you could score up to 3 glorious hours for your to churn out all that work!
Tip: Set aside some time for outdoor play near your abode so you can exhaust them pre-nap. Venturing outdoors might seem sacrilegious but if working on the go is an option, make these trips short and keep yourself connected at all times.
5. Cut yourself some slack with a little screen time
Watching Pink Fong’s Pinocchio
Image credit: @elliesheananigans
We’re all human, and if you’re a one-man-show at home, you can afford to cut yourself a some slack and give your kiddo a little screen time. Limit this to 1-hour a day or less if you wish – you’ll be able to squeeze in some productivity and your kids will love you all the more for it.
All screen time doesn’t have to be condemned the same way. If you’ve got a spare screen in the form of a laptop or iPad lying around the house, you’ll want to start loading your gadget up with some of these free kid-friendly apps that promise to impart knowledge in a fun and engaging manner.
Opt for enriching videos such as Pink Fong’s Aesop Fables for toddlers over Baby Shark loops and educational documentaries such as “Ask the Storybots” and “If I Were An Animal” if you’ve got a Netflix subscription.
6. Make use of free audio books and learning programmes
Image adapted from: Audible
You can start with this list of free education apps for toddlers and primary school children. In light of the COVID-19 situation, Audible has made hundreds of audio books available for free online streaming as long as schools stay closed – start your listening journey here.
Image adapted from: Scholastic
From getting your little one to practice their penmanship with letter tracing to DIY science experiments, you’ll be able to find a wealth of free printable online material for you to stimulate your kiddo’s brain cells at home.
Start with these ones here:
7. Speak to your boss about the possibility of flexi-hours
As parents, our parenting duties last an average of 13 hours a day – all the way till those little ones hit the sack. If your little one’s bedtime is set at 8PM, speak to your boss about the possibility of flexi-hours.
This can either be starting and ending the day an hour earlier, or taking an additional hour out of your working schedule to spend more time with your children while they’re awake or sort their dinner plans. This hour can then be “paid back” after they drift off to dreamland. Let your co-workers know the sitch at home and make sure you’re always contactable throughout the day.
This might mean sacrificing some well-deserved me time, but it’ll help you sleep a lot better at night knowing you’re doing all you can to balance work and being a parent.
Survival guide to working from home with kids in the mix
The stay-at-home mom (SAHM) life is usually perceived by most people as a piece of cake, but it isn’t until you’ve slipped on the shoes of a SAHM that you finally get a taste of the unadulterated chaos they deal with on the daily – on top of your take-home work responsibilities!
If you’re stuck working from home with kids until this whole Covid-19 situation blows over – whenever that may be – just know you’re not alone. It takes a whole deal of patience and proper planning, but you’ll emerge from this appreciating all the quality time spent at home with your kiddo.
Cover image credit (L-R): @little_play_ideas, TheSmartLocal
Originally published on 3rd April 2020. Last updated by Renae Cheng on 27th May 2021.