Thanks to new technology and software, working from home has become a lot easier. It saves both time and energy as you don’t have to commute to work or deal with traffic. It gives you more freedom since you can complete tasks at odd hours. However, it can be challenging to work from home for parents who have young kids. Parents have to manage both work and kids simultaneously. To make this a little easier, there are a few changes that can be made at home to create a more child-friendly workspace.
Creating a Child-Friendly Workspace at Home
Pick a Workspace
Many parents don’t know the importance of designated workspace at their homes. They simply place their laptops either on the dining table or on the kitchen counter, believing they can work efficiently without any distractions. However, this delusion can cost them as young kids naturally enjoy running around and making a lot of noise. We haven’t even mentioned how difficult it would be to conduct conference calls with that going on around you. This is why a separate work area can help your kids understand boundaries and the different roles being played by their parents. A sign could be put up on the home office’s door, which could serve as a reminder for kids. Alternatively, the door can be closed while working and left ajar once free.
People who are planning to construct a new room solely meant for office should ensure that adequate insulation is added so that sound cannot travel through the wall. A thick soundproof door or an acoustic door should be installed, which would act as a sound barrier. This way people would be able to conduct virtual meetings peacefully without any kids playing tag behind you. However, those who want to convert an existing room into an office area can soundproof the walls by installing sound panels on them. You can replace old doors with thicker, soundproof doors. Floors can be made soundproof with acoustic floor insulation. A ceiling can also be made soundproof by adding another layer of drywall or using acoustic tiles.
Secure Office Equipment
Parents should make sure that their home office equipment is protected from their young kids. The equipment needs to be stored properly and locked up for safety. Items you should focus on protecting might include a desktop or laptop, network router, headset, webcam, keyboard, surge protector, chair, desk, VoIP/telephone, printer, backup power, external drive/personal server, desk lamp and file cabinet.
Additionally, a password protected fire-safe box is a great option for storing important paperwork and copies of backup data. High shelves can be used for storing office supplies such as folders, pens, business cards, stick notes, ink, staplers, and rubber bands. Parents should select a child-safe paper shredder with a safety lock. However, regardless of the shredder’s safety features, it should definitely locked away from young kids as well.
Whether parents have a separate computer for work or a shared computer, they should make it childproof with appropriate software. Options like Net Nanny can be installed and used as a browser protector. These types of content-control software allow parents to supervise and control their kid’s activity on computers, phones, and other gadgets. It would notify them about the kid’s search engine usage, reporting flagged words. Additionally, they also block inappropriate images, filter IRC content, and hide profanity.
Parents who work from home should also get a keyboard key blocker tool like Toddler Keys. This tool would make a computer childproof by locking the mouse, keyboard, sleep button, power button, and CD drives. The locking feature can be enabled or disabled with a custom password. Parents would be able to secure their important work documents that could be easily deleted by their child slamming on random keys.
Tips to Balance Work and Kids at Home
Prepare a Schedule
People who work from their homes should set a work schedule that would help them complete the hours required in a given day. A convenient time could be fixed for having online meetings. With a work schedule in place, parents will be able to spend some with their kids. Parents can engage their kids in some activities such as painting, coloring, or drawing, which will let them work in peace. Freelancers and business people have the freedom to make their schedules based on their style of working. However, those who work as employers could form an agreement with their employers that would state the number of work hours per day.
Make Use of Nap Time
The norm for parents is to sleep when their young kids sleep. However, this time can be utilized by parents for getting some serious work done. Instead of sending their kids to bed by 9 pm, they could send by 7 pm. Parents can peacefully work from home until midnight. On the other hand, working into the wee hours of the morning is not recommended for parents with young kids. This would defeat the purpose of balancing work and kids. Young kids tend to take daytime naps. Parents can use this nap time to finish some office work that requires concentration.
Keep Kids Busy
Kids crave an exciting routine that is packed with interesting activities. Toddlers enjoy jumping, climbing, rolling, and crawling. Parents could set up an indoor play area by getting the right equipment. Alternatively, home objects can also be used for creating an indoor obstacle course. Elementary school kids can be kept busy with games like a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt. You could also try creative activities such as creating a comic-book, solving a puzzle, or writing a letter. Parents can take their kids out for a stroll during their work break.
Hire a Nanny
Parents working from home think that there is no need for in-home daycare. However, work can get stressful at times and caring for kids simultaneously can be challenging. Consider hiring a good nanny who can take care of their kids during their work hours. This way they would be able to concentrate on tasks such as answering emails and making conference calls. Parents can also consider hiring a teenage babysitter for a cheaper rate.