Work From Home With a Preschool Kid

Recently my company asked me to make a short talk on the topic of: How to Work&Live at Home with a Preschool Kid. I gladly accepted, but with a slight modification of the topic. I changed the title to: How To Work&Live at Home with a Preschool Kid.

It is my honest belief that there is no “right way” on how to raise a kid. Modern mankind has been around for thousands of years, which is quite a lot of generations. If there was this perfect way of raising children, we would have figured it out so far :). When the kid is born, you would be given a booklet. Doctors and nurses at the delivery room would give you a booklet and tell: This is how you do it!
But that never happens… and for me, this means that there is no right way for raising kids. There is no OneSize fits all. Kids are so different, grownups, all of us are so different, environment we live in is different… So, instead of me writing about How To, I can only write about what worked for me. And by sharing what worked for me (and what didn’t), maybe you get inspired and figure out what might work for you.

My Experience

Meetings

Let’s begin with meetings. When I started to work from home, initial challenges I encountered were the meetings. First one I had was a catastrophe… There was screaming, running, crying… everything. The meeting lasted only for 30 minutes, and I was surprised how many things can go wrong in such a short time πŸ˜€

First Approach

My initial thought was: Kid needs to learn how to behave during the meetings.
After the meeting, we sat and talked about Why we must be good when daddy has a meeting and Why we can’t watch cartoons tomorrow…

Overall – it didn’t work… It improved a bit, but didn’t really work.

Second Attempt

The deal was that actually – I needed to learn how to deal with the kid!
Sure, kid needed to learn how to behave in this new situation, but I was the one that also needed to learn how to deal with the kid. I figured out that I need to prepare the kid.

  • 20 min in advance – announce the meeting time
    This gives opportunity for the kid to prepare. To know what’s coming.
  • 15 min in advance – take care of the needs, play a bit, organize food if needed, figure out what the kid should do during this period:
    • Make something
    • Cartoons
    • Prepare paper and coloring pencils
    • … doesn’t matter – anything

And this helped :). It actually worked. For the upcoming meetings, kid was prepared. Had agenda what to do for its duration, knew that she should be calm and not to make (a lot of :)) noise, and was happy – because we actually spent some time together before the meeting.

Great success – 80% of the time at least πŸ™‚

Regular Worktime

What didn’t work

Initially I thought: It’s going to be like in kindergarten – you do your stuff; I will do mine for the day. Meet you later, after few hours… I mean, I am there, what could possibly go wrong…

That didn’t work of course :). The need for the attention was so big. Kid would come and ask something, I wouldn’t respond, or I would say: Let’s talk about it later. She wouldn’t be happy; she would come again with some other ask that would end in a similar way. And soon, it would escalate…
It didn’t work, for either of us. I needed to change the tactics.

What did work

Time Slices!
I figured out that the kid was probably just lonely (I was there, but actually, I wasn’t). So, I went to try out how much time was enough.

15 minutes does wonders – it turned out to be enough for the kid to recharge. 15 minutes together time, 1 hour of – you do your stuff; I’ll do mine.
After that, 15 minutes sync:

  • I help the kid with what she is stuck with
  • Or we just play for a short time
  • Or watch something

Then, again, 1 hour of you do your stuff, and we sync later.

It worked!

Main takeaway

Kid needed to learn how to behave in this new environment.
Like most of stuff in life, this was a new situation, and kid needed to learn how to deal with it.
But it’s not enough!
I needed to learn how to deal with the kid in this new environment also. Only when I adjusted, and the kid adjusted – we managed to get to some amount of success.
I would say, 80% of quality time πŸ˜€

What we did

Previous section was about “how we did”, now let’s cover briefly on “what we did”. I have split this section into 3 segments

Kid Alone

When I encounter a problem, I usually just go and ask someone smarter than me πŸ™‚
That’s what I did in this case also. I took a book to get inspiration what could kid do on her own.

Tinkerlab – Rachelle Doorley

Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors is a book where I looked for inspiration on what could the kid do during the “alone time”. It talks about different setups that we can create and let kids to explore.
One of the greatest successes was Straw Rocket:

Straw Rocket from Tinkerlab

We created a Straw Rocket using a bubble tea straw (tick straw), wrapped paper around it, and duck taped paper cone on top. It few amazing.
When we assembled it, I joked: 3, 2, 1… To the Moon!
My kid is small still. She doesn’t have strong lungs. But even so, she blew into the straw, and the rocket flew all the way across the room. For her – it was as if it really went to the Moon. Nothing she ever launched flew that far…

Straw Rocket was great value / time. It took us about 15 minutes to assemble, and provided hours of fun.

It comes with a cost

Choose Your Battles… The above picture was made after the second Time Slice. You can imagine how the room looks like toward the end of the day :D.
I learned really quickly to embrace the mess. The benefit that we get from kid being able to play/be creative on her own, repeatedly over the day – surpassed the value of tidiness and cleaning up. Compromises need to be made somewhere, you decide where.

We Together

For the evenings and the weekends that we spend home together, we try to tackle more complex stuff. Here is the list of things we did recently:

Me Alone

Remaining Time or Extra Time πŸ€”

Since I started to work from home, I noticed that I save some time by not commuting, save some time by not dropping off the kid to the kindergarten, save some time here and there. On the other hand, I spend some time on extra stuff I wasn’t worrying about before. I have less effective focus…
So, even though I don’t know is it remaining time, or extra time, when the evening comes, I kind of had an hour or so extra. I spent with the kid good part of the day already, so when the evening comes, it turned out not to be so intensive. I could focus on few things that I have neglected recently.

Hobbies!

Recently I created a blog and hosted it on Azure. Then I made a blog post on How to Make a Blog and Host it on Azure :).
Explore hobbies, they are fun way to learn and gain new skills.

Game Pass

Microsoft has always been bad with naming… Xbox Game Pass actually has PC games also.
I recently played:

I neglected gaming for few years. And it’s a shame. I really enjoyed getting back to it.

Reading

I know how this sounds – “if you have some time in the evening, go read a book”.
Even though it’s a clichΓ©, it’s actually true. Recently, I got more time to read books.
Currently on the list is: Multipliers by Liz Wiseman
Go read a book πŸ™‚

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