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.
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 😀
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.
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
- 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 🙂
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
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.
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 😀
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
When I encounter a problem, I usually just go and ask someone smarter than me 🙂
That’s what I did in this case also. I took a book to get inspiration what could kid do on her own.
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:
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.
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:
Remaining Time or Extra Time 🤔
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.
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.
- Ori and the Blind Forest
Piece of art – sequel came out 🙂
- Sea of Thieves
Quite fun multiplayer game
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Interesting. A bit dark at moments. I escaped to Sea of Thieves when it became overwhelming 🙂
- Forza Horizon 4
Forza was more fun than I expected
I neglected gaming for few years. And it’s a shame. I really enjoyed getting back to it.
I know how this sounds – “if you have some time in the evening, go read a book”.
Even though it’s a cliché, 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 🙂