How to work from home with kids without too much screen time
Updated: Jul 15
3 best working from home tips for parents who have toddlers or preschoolers
What a challenging time to be a parent. It takes a village to raise a child but how can we receive any support from anyone when social distancing is encouraged because of the effort to contain the spread of coronavirus?
Many businesses are encouraging people to work from home and the Australian government is encouraging parents to keep their children at home, which presents an enormous challenge for parents with young children – working from home while entertaining their kids.
If you’re anything like me, you hate the idea of having to turn on the screen (we got rid of our TV and tablets but still got laptops & smart phones) and still want to spend meaningful time with your kids but how can you get any work done?
Our daughter used to go to daycare 3 days a week, which gave me some solid hours to work, however, this arrangement has changed about 3 weeks ago. Although the daycare remains open, we have chosen to keep our daughter at home, which meant that we needed to figure out a new way of working. Let me share below my best 3 tips to work from home with your kids.
Be flexible with your work hours – work when your kids sleep
Fortunately, I don’t need to work typical 9-5 hours and can work flexibly most of the time except for the times I need to show up to teach live yoga classes online. My best time to get work done is early morning before my daughter wakes. I usually get 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on what time she wakes up. Our almost 4-year-old daughter still needs to nap during the day, so my next productive time happens when she takes an afternoon nap. Often, I get anywhere between 1-2 hours during her nap time. Evenings are harder for us as our daughter typically doesn’t sleep until 8:30pm (often later) and we are often a bit too tired to work in evenings (since we head to bed by 10pm) but if your kids are not napping anymore and going to bed earlier, then evenings might work for you.
Take turns with your partner and communicate each other’s schedule in advance to plan your day
Every morning, my husband and I double-check each other’s schedule and give each other reminder what time is non-negotiable work time for each other. For example, every Wednesday and Friday afternoons, I need to teach live yoga classes, so my husband takes out my daughter for an outdoor exercise like cycling, scootering and playing with a ball after lunch and she often falls asleep in the car on the way back. When they come back, I take my laptop to the car and keep working while she sleeps and my husband heads back inside for more work. Sometimes my husband has important work calls that he cannot get distracted so on those times, I take the above role of taking her outdoor. He often doesn’t start his first call until 8 or 8:30am so after having breakfast together as a family, I still have an hour or so to get more work done.
Set up indoor activities that draw your child’s curiosity and let them explore creativity
This social distancing has given us time to spend more quality time together as family and really get to know our daughter more. She is naturally very creative and expressive person and all I need to do is to set up various indoor activities for her throughout the day. (Sometimes I don’t even need to do that because she helps herself) I create various prompts for her (or call them invitations to play, if you like) which help her explore curiosity and creativity. She loves pretend play like pretend to be a shopkeeper, chef at restaurant or simply pretend to be her favourite animal, which is great for developing her imagination, but this requires my full attention and participation. I’m fully onboard with this when I can switch off from work but when I need to get some work done (like sending an urgent message or email) I found the following 4 types of play to be effective in encouraging independent play.
- Physical Play (moving our body through play)
- Loose Parts Play (using small pieces to construct something bigger)
- Sensory Play (exploring 5 senses through play)
- Expressive Play (using various media like paint to explore creativity)
If you know me well enough, I like to stay minimalistic and want to avoid buying more and more things including toys & materials for our daughter. We especially like to avoid buying things made of plastic or wrapped in plastic, so we just get creative with things we already have in our home and things the mother nature provides. This not only helps us save our money but also help us to cause least harm to our beautiful planet. Did you know I held a FREE online workshop to share some of my daughter’s favourite indoor play activities the other day? If you missed it, the replay is available until 3pm Wednesday 8th April. Hit the link below to get a FREE access to Mindful & Playful Kids Workshop before it comes down.
I’m also excited to share with you I’ll be running 4-week course to dive deeper into this topic! Mindful & Playful Kids Course start 4pm Wednesday 8th April. I will be covering each aspect of play I mentioned above over 4 weeks. The first class on physical play will cover some yoga poses too. What’s most exciting is that I’ll be collaborating with a local early childhood educator, Kimmy who has 12 years of experience working with young children to give you opportunities to ask any questions. Check out the full details by clicking the link below:
Mindful & Playful Kids Course
4-4:30pm on every Wednesday starting 8th April 2020
I must say this new work arrangement is working very well for our family and I feel a lot more productive than when our daughter was going to daycare 3 days a week. Because I have more limited time to get work done, I’m super focused which increases my productivity.
In this post, I shared my own experience of working from home while keeping our nearly 4-year-old daughter at home with us. FYI, I work part-time while my hubby works full time from home and I’m not tied to typical 9-5 hours. You are in your unique situation, different to ours so what works for our family may not work for you, but I hope this will at least help you come up with your own strategy to work from home with your kids. Keep experimenting until finding what works for you! Although we don’t own a TV, there are still times when we need to rely on a little bit of screen time especially when both of us need to be on the call. But we believe that young children thrive more through direct engagement through interactions and through non-screen play time.
Please stay informed of the latest changes in government & state government’s advice on social distancing as the recommendation can change daily.
Chika is a Yoga Australia registered teacher and mum to a nearly 4-year-old daughter. She has taught yoga & mindfulness to hundreds of children and adults over the last 6 years. She is passionate about working with young children and has seen countless number of children transform their lives through yoga & mindfulness. She currently lives on the Sydney Northern Beaches and embraces sustainable living and aspires to live as plastic-free & minimalistic as possible.