Working Effectively from Home with Children: Practical Secrets from GMS

4 min read

Before this enforced quarantine, a work/life balance was a great concern for many of us, who wished to spend more time with our families. Now, when we’ve been granted our wish (albeit, arguably not in the way that we had imagined it), most of us have to reinvent the whole work/life thing once again.

“Oh no, remote work with small twins and an older daughter at home… Impossible! ?” — thought Vitalii immediately as he heard about quarantine… As a result smart Vitalii and other happy parents have managed this challenge. In this article GMS’ colleagues from Ukraine and Europe share their secrets of how they have been working from home with kids.

Work with children at home GMS

Virginie, Chief Product Officer, Mother of daughter and twins:

Tip #1: Enjoy the moments

Every day, at least 15 mins before going to sleep, our family plays UNO and other games. We also celebrate different thematic holidays. For example, April 1 is called a Fish Day in France. This involves sticking a paper fish onto the back of as many adults as possible. Half of the day my children were drawing these fish? You can only imagine my back!

Tip #2: Replace cartoons with useful stuff

A good way to keep children busy and bring cultural impact is scientific programmes, real-life experiments on Youtube. There is also one French TV channel that follows a school programme and holds different lessons. I check the schedule and put my kids in front of the TV. Children also like to make virtual museum trips using IT-devices.

Tip #3: Test something new

My elder daughter asked me many times to attend the Paris Opera. I wasn’t sure she could calmly sit 2 hours watching the ballet. Fortunately, the Paris Opera has launch streaming on TV for free. Now it’s a great opportunity for me to test my daughter’s addiction to ballet?

Serhii, Head of Software Development Division, Father of four children with an age difference of 3 years:

Tip #4: Give tasks for kids before meetings

15-20 minutes before an important call/meeting, I take a break with my children. We begin to play an interesting game or start new activities in such a way that they continue to be involved during my working call.

Tip #5: Negotiate! But stick to your promises

Negotiations are the best compromises with our Z-generation. Be careful: they remember every detail! So promise only things you are able to commit to? Additional time with tablet or TV helps to distract children if I have an unexpected call. But it’s like an exception, because they always know that father is busy!

Vitalii, Product Management Unit Manager, Father of daughter and twins:

Tip #6: Explain, repeat, explain, repeat x100

My lovely twins are only 2 years old, so at first, it was difficult for them to understand why I locked the door in my working room. My wife and I tried to explain that Father is working. We did it 100-500 times. Now my babies are knocking to the door for only 5 minutes and then find another interesting thing to do.

Tip #7: Be fully present in your current activity

If I have breaks with the children, I’m doing that at 100% — trying not to think about work. It’s a real holiday for the babies when I take short breaks during the day. It seems they are waiting for the moment to jump onto me. These short breaks are enough for them to keep calm for several hours.

Iryna, Collections Coordinator, Mother of two:

Tip #8: Be creative and inventive parents

Quests always help me to involve my children in a game. I hide some toys/presents in my flat and give special map or hint for them. Half of the day they are looking for the hidden treasure and the other half they are discovering their new stuff.

Tip #9: Engage children with home routines

I made a special working place for kids with the old computer. Every day they receive a dose of emails from their favourite cartoon heroes with different tasks. I prepare these letters the evening before and put them on postponed delivery. The tasks vary from school homework to cleaning the turtle or sweeping the floor. Small house tasks are made, children are happy — I can work calmly.

Tip #10: Let your children call friends/relatives

Facetime, Viber, WhatsApp communications with friends are a great solution for the social isolation gap. My children are able to call at least 2 times a week for 15 min. They see their friends and assure them that they still exist.

Yevhenii, IT Risk & Compliance Manager, Father of two sons:

Tip #11: Always limit the children’s inaction

Fortunately, my eldest son, like other scholars, has a tight remote school schedule. I work with him in one room, and he feels like an adult busy with important tasks.  

Tip #12: Plan kids’ activity ahead

Now one of my obligatory evening tasks is going out with kids. I think that this is very important to breathe fresh air and to ensure the children have the possibility to release energy stored during the day. Otherwise, they will find an alternative way to be active and can smash a flat.

Illia, Head of Product Development Division, Father of two:

Tip #13: Mute your microphone

If you are on a call, but not speaking at the moment, MUTE your microphone. You never know what might happen in the next moment: a explosion of children’s laughter or argument, annoying building sounds above your flat, etc. Minimise the risk of disturbing colleagues.

Ihor, Development Engineer (RCS), Father of three:

Tip #14: Do everything together

Luckily, my family is now living out of the city, so evening family running and daily workouts are our lifestyle.  We do sport together, work and study together, and also have fun together.

Sarah, International Business Development Director, Mother of two:

Tip #15: Keep fit and be active

My children often join me for my morning run. My daughter on her bike and my son jogging beside me. My daughter likes to act as “personal trainer” and my son generally likes to sprint around me highlighting how “slow” mummy runs.

It gets everyone up. It’s a nice and early start of the day. Everyone is in a good mood before school or the workday begins, even if sport only lasts for one hour.

Tip #16: Appreciate the unique opportunity to be together

What I think we are all enjoying is the additional time that we have together. I was never at home during the day and usually came home after the evening meal. Now we are all together for all meals and (apart from the extra weight gain) this has provided a lovely time to all sit together and discuss our day.

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