Working from Home with Children in the House

Many of us have no choice but to work from home these days. But how can you do that successfully when you have children to look after?
Working from Home with Children in the House

Last update: 28 May, 2020

You’re in the middle of a business meeting and, suddenly, your child shows up and says, “Dad, will you help me find my toy?” You tell him to wait a minute but he says, “No! Now!” This situation can cause a lot of frustration and awkwardness. There may be times when working from home with children in the house can seem impossible to cope with.

However, there are ways to avoid these problems and manage potential frustration intelligently. It’s normal to feel a bit disoriented during the first few days, as your home has suddenly turned into your workplace and a school classroom.

Therefore, it’s important to know how to manage this exceptional situation so that you can fulfill your work responsibilities, have time to help your children with their homework, and find time to do all the other chores, such as cooking, doing the laundry, and cleaning.

A dad with his child.

It’s good to set schedules, but be flexible

Although working from home and looking after your children can be hard, you should establish a schedule everyone respects and follows. At what time do I start working ? When should we wake the children?

The answers to these questions, and a few others, will give you the clues you need to organize your days and avoid interruptions during your workday. However, we’re talking about children here, which is why you need to be flexible.

On the other hand, although you may be clear about your schedule, it’s normal for unforeseen events to arise. If your children are already of a certain age, for example, you can agree with them that they can come and see you for five minutes every hour to ask questions.

Finally, even if you talk about everything and your children are willing to stick to the schedule, it’s still likely that unforeseen interruptions will occur. During these moments, you need to be willing to keep a positive attitude. In this regard, controlling your breathing can be really helpful.

If you’re working from home with children in the house, you won’t be able to work a normal eight-hour day. You’ll have to adapt the time you have available to work around your children’s schedules, in order to avoid these interruptions. Perhaps you should wake up earlier to get a head start. You’ll have to decide this yourself, taking how active your youngest children are during the day into account.

Talking to your children is essential

This is another indispensable point. Working from home with children is only possible if you reach an agreement. The book Practical Guide for Mental Health in Disaster Situations states that children understand when situations are difficult. This means that they work best when they understand what’s happening and why it’s important for them to cooperate.

You’ll need to have an open conversation with them to explain what’s happening. You need to explain why they have to be at home and that there are times of the day when you need them to do quiet activities or activities that won’t require your help.

This way, although they may have to call you during exceptional times, they’ll know that you’re working and will think twice about bothering you.

A mother talking to her son.

Separate the different areas when you’re working from home

Separating the areas of your house is an excellent option. Each part of the home should be dedicated to a specific activity. For example, there should be no interruptions in your work are. Also, designate another part of the house for your children to study and do their homework.

You can make this a sort of game so your children will feel involved. This way, they’ll be aware of the different areas: where mom or dad work, where their “school” is, and where the “playground” is. If you follow these guidelines, it’ll be much easier for you to work with your children in the house.

In addition to all of the above, in order to make teleworking with children a success, you mustn’t forget that it’s also important for you to spend quality time with your children. This means that, after you finish working, you should play with them, talk, read a story together… It’s important for you to do this so they feel cared for.

Start a diary

The newspaper La Vanguardia shared the diary an eight-year-old boy started when the COVID-19 lockdown began. It allows him to express his sensations and experiences and describe his feelings and emotions. Without a doubt, this is a very positive activity you should try with your children.

Are you working from home and looking after your children at the same time? How have you managed it so far?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Pérez-Then, E. (2020). Nuevo coronavirus 2019-ncov: impacto en salud global. Ciencia y Salud4(1), 5-9.
  • Uribe, S. L., Guarín, I., Gómez, S., & Vergel, L. (2020). Prevención de los peligros y promoción de entornos saludables en el teletrabajo desde la perspectiva de la salud pública. Aibi revista de investigación, administración e ingeniería, 44-52.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.