9 Tips For Working Remote With Kids

January 11, 2014

Never lock your office door

You’re going on a phone call and you want to lock that door so the kids won’t come in and interrupt. All you’re doing is guaranteeing a barrage of knocking and yelling that you’ll have no way to stop since you’re on a headset plugged into your computer.

Instead, leave the door just touching the jam. You get most of the benefits of a closed door, but kids can poke their heads in easy so you can play a mime and shoo them away.

You should have office hours

Most people think of working from home as working anytime you want. Some people do work this way, but I’m not a huge fan of it in general. With kids I think it’s even worse. Having set times of day that you’re working vs not makes the entire thing much easier for children to grok.

Get a decent noise canceling microphone

This is obvious, but you’ll want a decent headset that can remove at least some of the background noise. It’s impossible to keep kids quiet so don’t try, you always have to be thinking mitigation not prevention.

Try and be consistent about play time

I try to be as consistent as possible about post work time. We do dinner and then play/read after work. The kids know what to expect because it’s our regular schedule every night.

Limit exceptions

If you make a mid-day exception to your normal working routine to play a game you’re opening yourself up to constant interruption thereafter. The child will require all new retraining :) This makes you sad when they come in to play games all the time and you have to tell them no.

Wait for lunch or after work.

Make exceptions

Sometimes you just need to make those exceptions! You hear a crisis in process, go ahead and find out what’s going on. Some kind of special occasion, take some time to celebrate with them. You’re working from home after all!

Yes, I just contradicted myself. It takes some time to learn to balance the right amount of “I’m working so I can’t acknowledge the outside world” and “I’m home so it’s silly not to do xyz”.

It’s 2014, people know about remote work

If your child does interrupt your call or is making some noise it’s OK to say you’re working from home and sorry for the interruption. Most of the time the other person on the phone just says it must be great to be able work from home!

3pm intrusion

If you have school age kids you’ll probably get interrupted around 3pm when they get home. I find it’s best to allow this intrusion. Take a minute to get a hug and ask how their day went. It gives you a short cuteness break and gives them a moment of attention before they go off and play.

Be understanding

It’s really confusing for kids when you work from home. Home for them is where they relax and play and you working there just doesn’t jive with that. It takes a lot of time and patience to get them to fully understand what you’re doing and why it’s important.

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