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7 rules for remote work with children on board!

You’re at home with the children, but the work needs to be done? You run your own business and it can’t take time off work? You’ve not worked remotely before, or so rarely that you always succeeded somehow? Read some of approaches I’ve tested on children of all ages. Maybe some of them will help you end the day better? Check it out!

  • Agnieszka Kaczanowska - 20/03/2020

Learn the 7 rules of working remotely with a child on board to be used not only during a coronavirus pandemic!

I’ve been working from home for 13 years. And I know what dangers await „teleworkers”. I know what challenges we can face every day and how satisfying it is to save time you’d normally waste on commuting. 😉 And since working remotely has now become one of the most popular forms of work, maybe you could use a few tips?

EDIT: Working with a child up to about 2 years old is an obstacle course, it’s possible, of course, but only in 15 or 20 minute time slots and that’s not always the case. Knowing your child helps here, just as the assistance of another adult or an older sibling… In short, hang in there!

1. Create a „contract” or an „agreement”

I know that every child is different, but try it even with a two-year-old. In my case, the verbal „contract” with a child for a certain period of time has worked well from the time my child turned three or so. We made a deal: „I do my thing, and you do yours.” Of course, 2.5 year-old will stay busy for about 15 minutes, but that’s something!

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The older the child, the longer the time he/she can entertain themselves. We agree beforehand what each of us has to do. For example, I have to write an offer for a client, and what could you do in the meantime? Or I’ll suggest something for you to do by sneaking a peek at my long „rescue list”!

Read also: How to work with a child at home?

2. Prepare a rescue list

I’m not a fan of lists. Oh, no. But I love these, and we start each holiday or other remote-work sessions with children with these. But this time I’ll limit myself to what we can do at home. After all: #stayathome!

Together with the children and my husband, we write down all the ideas for doing things at home: Legos, games, remember all the other toys that are stuck at the bottom of boxes and cabinets. Colouring books, pick-a-sticks, dominoes. In short, everything may be on the list. What for? Because when the moment comes that a child has to stay busy, sometimes there is no window to think. The idea must be here and now. So there it is!

Which of course doesn’t mean that I don’t like boredom! I love it, though my kids a bit less, because when they’re bored and tell me about it, I always say „That’s great! You have a chance to come up with some fun on your own or discover something new.” But let’s be honest, I can say that to my 6-year-old and he will really come up with something. When he was younger, he would eventually come back to me – after 5 minutes… 😉

Such a list can also come in handy during those long afternoons, when everyone is already tired and running on fumes! But that’s why we have a daily schedule!

Read also: Children at home: how to organise their time and be able to work remotely?

3. Establish a daily schedule

Does your child start the weekend by asking „What are our plans for today?” Mine does. Especially the younger two. And when I don’t work at the weekend, we can plan together, come up with fun things to do or just go wild. However, when I have work to do, deadlines are looming and the schools are closed, the schedule really helps.

That’s why we agree on a daily plan, so that it’s easier for everyone. If your child is smaller, then this schedule is more for you, although it is equally important in order to avoid frustration. PS.: Yes, I know, daily life writes its own plans sometimes, but it is good to start with something.

Example daily schedule? 9:00. I sit down to work, and you have 1.5 hours to do something you want. Then we meet for lunch, and I’ll have coffee. My kids are big enough for this to actually work. They take turns taking care of the younger one. Seriously.

Although, when they were younger, the schedule had to fit their routine. A moment of playing with Legos together, then you play alone and I have to work… Then, for example, we play a game for a while, or we go for a walk, and then I go back to work. Time for dinner, then again some fun and then work again.

We’re all happier that way. Children find it easier to cope with daily routine find and know what will happen. And me too, because I allow myself to close the computer and take care of them without feeling guilty that work is still waiting to be finished.

4. Divide chores and responsibilities

Depending on age, everyone can get something done; I always say that these tasks have to be completed „for the common good.”

The quality level achieved in performing these tasks is a separate topic, but I reckon that at least it’s done.

Depending on the age. Maybe older siblings will come up with games for the younger one? Of course, if it’s feasible: I don’t expect 1.5 year-old to keep a 2-month-old sister entertained. 😉

This, of course, does not protect us from a perpetual mess. 😉 I just make sure there’s safe passage through every room. 😉

5. Try working in intervals

This is the key to working remotely with children! What does that mean?
I divide the day and tasks into smaller parts, depending on the age of the children. Because I know that if I take on a big task and someone interrupts me every now and then, I will certainly do nothing, and I will be angry with myself and with the children.

Depending on the tasks, the need for phone calls and meetings, I divide the day according to the priorities of the tasks on my list. If, for example, I have time (relatively) for work from 9:00 till 10:00 a.m., I can only write back to the most important e-mails of my clients and my team. If possible, I can also prepare the work for later. I take a break and I spend time with my children. Then I go back to work again… and so on and so forth.

This did not work with small children, of course, but with the daily schedule and the list of ideas, I managed to cut out some 2 hours or so (in intervals)… Well, maybe more, adding a walk with the phone in my hand while the baby was falling asleep in the stroller. 😉

6. Use a support system

That should have been the first point. Because if your husband/partner also works from home, the whole jigsaw puzzle also applies to him. If he goes out to work, maybe he can change his working hours a little? So that you can do some of your work in the morning, e.g. until 10 or 11 a.m.? Then both of you have time to work.

Sharing can do wonders. My husband works a lot remotely and we have learned with time that we have to share. Children can’t just be my responsibility. Sometimes it works better, sometimes worse. But if one person is serving dinner or making breakfast, then the other one can work in peace. Even if my work is more flexible, we agree an engagement where we are both committed. As much as each of us we can.

If you have someone else to help you with your children, that’s great! Maybe a sister or brother could come over for a while and take care of the kids… Though in the times of the coronavirus maybe they’d better not. Grandmothers are also out of the question right now.

7. Find your „lifeline” or even two

Working with children is demanding. It’s easy to get frustrated. A lot is happening and not always according to plan. That’s why it’s super important to have a few lifelines at hand that will allow you to get back into relative balance. What works for me?

A phone call to a friend to vent for a moment or just talk to some fun adult.

One earplug. I know it’s pretty controversial, but one earplug won’t keep you from hearing things happen and at least some of your thoughts will stay with you, try it!

A little pleasure just for myself. For example, music, when I feel it’s a little too much, my mood-improving playlist doesn’t disappoint me. Do you have one?

And what can help you? Do you have any tips?

Do you want to get to know us better? – read about Mamo Pracuj – community helping mums to get back to work.

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Agnieszka Kaczanowska
Współzałożycielka mamopracuj.pl, od dziesięciu lat rozwija swoje umiejętności łączenia życia rodzinnego i zawodowego i nawet jej to wychodzi! Lubi wyzwania i cieszy ją kiedy pracodawcy znajdują świetnych pracowników. Mama wesołej trójki, żona i miłośniczka kotów. 

Pomysły na sprawdzony biznes dla mamy? Franczyza dla Mamy 2020

Chciałabyś prowadzić firmę, ale nie wiesz od czego zacząć? Jesteś dynamiczna, gotowa na wyzwania i spełnienie marzeń? Chcesz robić coś ciekawego po przerwie, mieć elastyczne zatrudnienie ale boisz się ryzyka? Pomyśl o franczyzie! Partner biznesowy da Ci oparcie, stabilizację, pomoże zaplanować pierwsze kroki - reszta należy do Ciebie! Zobacz fantastyczne pomysły, sprawdzone już przez inne mamy.
  • Franczyzadlamamy.pl - 30/03/2020
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Pomysły na sprawdzony biznes dla mamy? Franczyza dla Mamy

Franczyza dla Mamy to propozycja dla tych mam, które szukają pomysłu i sposobu na własną firmę i którym zależy na wsparciu doświadczonego partnera na start i w codziennym działaniu.

Poniższe franczyzy to solidni partnerzy, od lat działający na polskim rynku. To firmy ze znaną marką ale jednocześnie z duszą i inicjatywą, przyjazne rodzicom, wspierające rozwój swoich franczyzobiorców.

Posłuchaj także naszego podcastu – Czy franczyza to dobry sposób na biznes dla mamy?

Zobacz, jakie mamy dla Ciebie propozycje!

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Brzmi zachęcająco? Zapoznaj się ze szczegółami.

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Co jeszcze? Sprawdź!

Co to jest franczyza?

Ty kupujesz pomysł na biznes, a w zamian dostajesz znaną markę i wsparcie franczyzodawcy. To biznes dla tych, którzy cenią sobie niezależność z prowadzenia własnej firmy, ale chcą mieć wsparcie od dużego partnera.

Prowadzisz biznes w oparciu o sprawdzony model biznesowy. Oznacza to, że franczyzodawca przekazuje przedsiębiorcy kompletną wiedzę w zakresie prowadzenia biznesu, w ramach określonego systemu franczyzowego.

Franczyzodawca i franczyzobiorca pozostają niezależnymi przedsiębiorcami, a ich wzajemne prawa i obowiązki reguluje umowa franczyzowa.

Franczyza to świetny pomysł na biznes dla zaangażowanej mamy, która pragnie się rozwijać!

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Akcja Franczyza dla Mamy 2020 – sprawdzone pomysły na biznes doczekała się już 7 edycji i potrwa do marca 2021.

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Franczyza dla Mamy to projekt portalu Mamo Pracuj prezentujący sprawdzone pomysły na biznes dla mam. Nie masz pomysłu na własny biznes? Skorzystaj z franczyzy! Portal Mamo Pracuj nie bierze odpowiedzialności za wyniki biznesowe prowadzenia działalności przez franczyzobiorców.
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How to work at home with a child?

What do you do when you have to work from home and you know you can't ask anyone to look after your child? Can you get along with your child and establish a mutual front so that you can do your professional duties or rest and your child would feel looked after, too? We have a few tips! Read on!
  • Joanna Baranowska - 20/03/2020

How to work at home with your child? 6 basic guidelines to start with

1. Respect and understanding…

…for each other’s needs, which means I need to work, and you, my son, need my attention, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean that these needs are automatically met, but noticing that they are there.

I’m OK and you’re OK, even if I don’t meet your needs, and even if you use all the means to get me to meet them. You have the right to try to be effective and I have the right to feel nervous, to inform you about it and to draw boundaries for your behaviour.

reklama przedszkole online early stage

2. Children cooperate with us in 9 out of 10 instances

Repeating after Jasper Juul, they really do want to work with us; just help them by saying what we expect from them. However, they are only children and operate in much shorter time frames, they are less patient.

Read also: 7 rules for remote working with children on board!

3. Expect the possible from your children

Take into account whether their bellies are full, whether they’ve slept enough, or maybe they’ve eaten chips and chocolate, so nothing gets through to them, which means they’re not able to do what we expect from them.

4. We learn by repeating as children do too

For a new activity to become a habit it takes between 3 and 21 repetitions. What’s the conclusion? No need to get mad. Just keep repeating.

5. Kids can say “yes”…

… to our request to be quiet for 1 hour, but they probably don’t understand what they’ve committed themselves to and they will run out of patience sooner, so be prepared to repeat your request as often as the children will need it.

6. If something doesn’t work, do something else

Learn, read (I recommend books by such authors as J. Juul, A. Faber and E. Mazlish).

Read also: Children at home: how to organise their time and be able to work remotely?

5 stages of communication

  • Intent – what we mean when we speak – thinking is to operate with symbols that are given verbal equivalents,
  • Message – what we actually say – the content of the message, i.e. verbal equivalents,
  • Message reception – what the other person hears,
  • Decoding – what the other person understands from what they have heard,
  • Interpretation – what this person has learned from having in mind the context of the situation and all knowledge sources.

What to do to be well understood?

1. Adapt the level of communication to the child.

2. Make sure your child is focused so that you can be sure your request has reached him/her.

3. Tell your child what will happen and possibly for how long.

4. Say what you expect, not what you don’t want.

5. Be very specific

6. Acknowledge your child’s needs as important, relevant, and (if true) that you would very much like to meet them.

7. Give your child a choice of what he or she can do.

What should you say before you sit down at the computer?

An example of my conversation with my child:

Honey, now I have to sit at the computer and I need some quiet, you can play in the room during this time, or I can play a movie for you, or maybe you have an your own idea?

And then I often hear: „Noooo, I want you to go to the park with me,” so I continue:

Son, I would like to go to the park with you, too, I think it would be very nice, but I need to work today, I made an appointment for a phone call and the lady is waiting for me, it’s very important for me.

The child may then behave in very different ways to express their emotions and at the same time change your mind. My son sometimes cries, does things I have forbidden him to do, starts fooling around or throwing things. Of course I don’t like it, but I also get angry or sad when I don’t get what I want. There’s nothing strange about that.

At that moment it’s worth to help your child name these emotions. Providing them with the right names allows us to control them better. How do you do that? Kneel in front of the child, try to be in physical contact (you can hold their hand gently, stroke the head). I also sometimes say:

Come on, we need to talk, I need to hug you, can I sit you in my lap? (we don’t force anything).

And I go on saying:

Honey, are you angry or sad when you do that? (waiting for an answer). I understand you can be angry. I’m sorry about that. Please tell me, „I’m angry at you” instead of throwing things (I’m waiting for my son to tell me that). Thank you for telling me this, I’m sorry you’re angry, but, you know, I need to call this lady who’s waiting for me for a while and write something on the computer.

If the child is having problems with controlling him- or herself, it means the emotions are really strong. Hugging and stroking help both the child and us to deal with stress because they release oxytocin, which lowers stress hormones.

Once I manage to sit down at the computer, I’m very tired and a little impatient. Then it often turns out that instead of letting me work, my son comes up to me with more and more requests. How to keep your cool and be consistent and kind then?

Assertiveness: the working mom’s weapon

Assertive behaviour is one based on respect for the needs of each party. It is a situation when we give ourselves and others the right to refuse to comply with a request.

On the other hand, as parents, we know the broader context of each situation, we understand the long-term consequences and in many situations we make the final decisions, although it is the respect for children that makes us want to clarify to them the reasons for our decision.

It is not assertiveness does not imply saying „no, just because…”, „no, because I want to”, „no, because I said so”.

The assertive refusal model

The model of an assertive refusal contains the word NO, but also we add to it:

  • information about the decision or
  • a possible explanation of the grounds for our refusal, i.e. the actual reasons why we decided to refuse; this makes the refusal more understandable for the other party and that is the purpose of informing about the motifs for our decisions (without excuses or resentments),
  • a possible message that builds the relationship; this makes the refusal more acceptable to the other party, but the statement does not lose any of its sincerity.

Example:

Sweetheart, I’m NOT going to play Legos with you now + because another lady wrote to me and is waiting for my reply, so I want to sit by the computer for a while longer + we’ll play with the Legos when I’m finished in a few minutes.

Relationship building messages

  • I’m sorry, as an expression of empathy, but not an apology,
  • Not now, but some other time,
  • Not that, but assuring that you are open to other requests,
  • Anticipation, for example: „it may be difficult for you to understand.”

Don’t say:

  • Why don’t you want to help me? Why do you want to read a book right now? – a child feels that something is wrong with him/her and his/her needs, and that’s not true.
  • It’s not my fault, I have to work – you put yourself in the role of a victim who doesn’t control his/her life.

How to learn to be assertive?

You may have read this text and already know that you like these methods, but you won’t be able to put them into practice. Frankly speaking, I would be very surprised if you could do it right away on the first try. So how can you help yourself to really learn it?

1. You can write down an example of a dialogue with your child, which you will conduct in a difficult situation.

2. You are probably used to responding in some way; to mould these habits into new ones, try to react slower, try not to shout right away, but maybe in a while.

3. Try to define in your mind the emotion you are feeling: „I am angry, annoyed that…” and decide whether you want to tell your child about it.

4. Choose one new behaviour that you will implement for a while, then another.

5. Practice. Repeat to yourself what you could say the next time. Try to change your behaviour in less stressful situations.

6. Be understanding for yourself. Apply the same leniencies to yourself as you apply to children. Did I get enough sleep today, or was I irritated by something else?

7. Should you actually lose control, apologize to your child and hug him/her. Help the child tell you that he or she was scared. You can also say that you are working on it to prevent this from happening again. You can come up with some action plan to use when you feel that you are losing control. Say, for example: „Next time I get so angry, I’ll just go into the other room and try to calm down.”

Remember, that the first three attempts to implement the new skills are only just that: attempts. The third time around you will start to feel that you’re beginning to get the grasp of it, and the actual habit will start to emerge between the third and twenty first attempt.

Good luck!

Do you want to know more about Mamo Pracuj – community helping mums to get back to work?

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Joanna Baranowska
Coach i psycholog specjalizująca się w pracy z mamami, które czują się rozczarowane swoim życiem. Stworzyła i realizuje programy kierowane do mam: Wyjdź z pieleszy; Uwolnij moc; Ogarnij dziecko; Mama bez frustracji i poczucia winy. www.joannabaranowska.pl
Chcę otrzymywać inspiracje, pomysły i sugestie jak pracować i nie zwariować.
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