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Working from Home with Kids – What the experience taught me and how I kept sane. by Mark Diener

With children returning to school this week as we all get used to life under Alert Level 2, I thought it was timely to reflect on the last seven weeks and share with you some of my personal experiences, and what this time together as a family has taught me. There have certainly been some challenges, but also some bright and funny moments that we would not have otherwise had if we were not on lock-down together!

If you have older teens, the challenge of balancing parenting responsibilities with working from home was probably less of a concern for you, as older children know how to keep out of your hair and can work on their homework themselves – most of the time at least!

With my wife and I both working full time from home with two young boys, aged 5 and 12, lock-down living was a much bigger adjustment for our family.

It was important to us that we kept our kids engaged in learning, and hopefully doing their Google-Classroom assignments, while also still trying to get work done ourselves. The arguing and bickering between them regarding what to watch on TV or who’s turn it was on the PlayStation did not help at all!

Here are some things I learned about myself and my family during this challenging time, let me know if you can relate?

  1. I was able to be more tolerant and understanding than I ever thought possible with my kids during the last few weeks. A lot of patience and a good glass of wine while making supper at the end of the day helped too. As they say, sometimes you just have to ‘let it go’…
  2. Setting a family schedule really helped, but we also had to be flexible. Between my wife and I both working from home, helping the kids with their schooling and the day to day household duties, time was at a premium. It wasn’t always possible to get the kids to do their homework, but we tried our best and didn’t beat ourselves up when things didn’t go to plan.
  3. Putting the devices down and getting back to basics gave us some wonderful family moments. The lock-down gave us more time together, which we would not normally have had. We worked on two WASJIG puzzles which occupied a lot of the kid’s time and gave us some freedom. It also pulled them away from their devices. We also played Lego together and got creative drawing on the concrete outside with chalk.
  4. Exercise was more important than ever.  It helped us stay sane but also kept the kids from destroying the house. We had to remember to schedule outdoor time as a family, we went for a lot of walks together and the kids enjoyed playing on their scooters which burned away that built up energy.
  5. My wife and I had to support each other more than usual. With both of us working full-time, we had to make compromises on our work priorities by being prepared to ask each other to ‘take over the kids’ while we went onto ‘client facing’ meetings via Teams or Zoom. Every now and then a rogue child would make an entrance, but this wasn’t a bad thing at all – everyone understands when working from home during lock-down, we are parents first, before we are business acquaintances.

To end my short message to you all, I am very grateful to my family for adjusting to each other as we went through lock down together and secondly to my employer, CodeBlue, who I can only describe as being extremely empathetic and accommodating to their staff and families during these really tough and troublesome times.

Originally published on LinkedIn by Mark Diener 19 May 2020.

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