Welsh Witterings: A Survival Guide to Working with Children
They do say ‘’never work with animals and children’’ and I can quite honestly say that is extremely sound advice. As a mother of four young children aged 9 years, 6 years, 20 months and 3 months I must say that my working life is at the best of times difficult, but that’s not to say I would change it.
I work from a small home office and whilst most people’s office is filled with box files and organized folders mine has a dolls house, peppa pig books and baby changing station in it alongside my desk. There are times when a deadline is looming, the telephone is ringing, the domestic chores are screaming for attention, the postman is knocking the door and both of my youngest children are screaming and need nappies changing. So I end up letting the phone go to the answering machine, chasing one child for nappy change, answering the door somewhere during the chase and breast feeding the baby into the bargain. When all is calm and some sort of normality is resumed it’s suddenly time to collect the other children from school and the deadline is part written and will have to be finished off when they are all in bed. Of course there will be school homework to tackle, dinner time, bedtime stories and a host of other things to do between school pick-up and bedtime and there is every possibility that by the time I’ve changed and fed the baby after the older ones have gone to the land of nod that I too will want to crawl into bed of course that will have to wait until the washing machine is loaded and the junk and gunk is extracted from school coat pockets and bags.
As I sit tapping the keys of my laptop to write this article I can hear the theme tune to Peppa Pig playing, I’m not actually sure whether it really is playing or if it’s just in my head. Meanwhile my nineteen month old has climbed on my lap and is now wriggling and scrabbling around as I try to type. She’s spotted a coloured biro on my desk so I’ll have to break from the typing to wrestle that off her before my whole house begins to look like an advert for Crayola. The clock is ticking and time is passing, my ‘’to do’’ list is not getting shorter and soon it will be time for Rosa’s lunch and Beatrice’s feed. Under my breath I mumble, ‘Who works like this?’ The answer is simple, every parent with young children that work from home.
The daily working routine is actually less of a routine and more of survival activity. I think that team building exercises for corporate companies should involve trying to think and complete any task with young children who need attention. It is certain that working from home with young children is not for everyone, but for me it is definitely the best solution. There are good days and bad days. Some days both young children are content and happy and I can jot out a few articles in a morning, tie up my phone calls and wrap up all those things on the ‘’to do list’’ then head off to the park with the children, whilst other days getting the loo or taking a sip of coffee is a challenge, let alone working. Overall the positives of working from home with young children outweigh the negatives and one glance at my cluttered desk that is filled with small toys and children’s drawings tells me that.
Tip 1: Put your desk closer to your kids, if possible. I have my desk in what was the spare bedroom, I have now made this an office and playroom. I love to have them around and it doesn’t disturb my concentration when they are playing dolls or cars. This is far better than me wondering where they are. The only thing is they often want to join in on business calls or help me with my typing.
Tip 2: Take the pressure off! This is the best piece of advice I can give anyone that is considering working from home with young children. If things don’t work out the way you’d hoped today, then just take a deep breath and spend time being Mummy or Daddy and make a plan to catch up on work after bed or the following day. There is no point working yourself into a frenzy and achieving nothing .
Tip 3: Rotate Toys: Making sure that you rotate toy so things are interesting is key in achieving deadlines and getting work done.This can buy an extra 10–20 minutes of independent play time to get a few more things done and can give you a bit of headspace or sometimes just allow you get yourself organized.
Tip 4: Remember the bigger picture. Some days can be hellish other heavenly. I strive to keep focused on the work tasks that matter most so I’m getting those done in my available times. I certainly make the most of nap times. When it gets hard or I feeling I am failing I hold to the bigger vision and benefits of being able to work from home. I focus on the fact that I am not separated from my little one and that I get to witness there development. In amongst working I can be mum and that is worth any amount of hassle. These memories are worth it!
Tip 5: You are only Human. As much as I would like to be a super human or some sort of caped hero, I am just human and so are my children. Sometimes I am brilliant at over estimating what I can achieve in a day and this can lead to me feeling like a failure. It is important to accept that children and that the work and definitely the dust will still be there after the children go to bed.