Effective Home Office with Kids? We'll Show You How!

We hope you liked this article about remote work. Browse the other articles of the series:

As you have seen in previous posts, remote work is an extremely divisive topic. This is especially true if you choose this lifestyle as a parent.

It can be very tempting to work from the couch while supervising the kids, but the reality isn't that simple. Working time limits can be difficult to adhere to, plus there are too many temptations in our homes. In many cases, children require round-the-clock attention and this can easily be at the expense of productivity.

Because many parents these days are forced to try themselves in this role, we asked those who know the ropes.

It's time to get to know parents:

Our colleague, Norbert Zsombori has been working from the comfort of his home in the heart of Satu Mare for 7 years. Father of two adorable children. With a well-designed routine and pre-laid rules, he can now easily take on the challenges of the home office.

Zsolt Kálmán has been working from his home office for 12 years. He and his wife are raising two wonderful children. As a home-working parent, he soon had to face the challenges that came with it: he had to find a balance between work and private life, daily chores, and quality time with family.

Csaba Barabás shares his experience and advice as a rookie father.

Let's see how they cope with daily tasks as a parent working from home?

Otthonról dolgozni gyerek mellett sose volt és soha nem is lesz egyszerű feladat.

- What were the first challenges of the home office?

Norbi: First, I was faced with the problem that working from home makes it hard to draw the line between privacy and work. When does work begin and when does it end? When you physically go into an office, you can sense that as soon as you get to work, the work starts, and as soon as you come from there, it ends. I was also missing the journey between the office and the workplace. Not just because of the movement. Along the way, my brain was able to switch from private thoughts to work and vice versa. That's why, after finishing work, I sometimes walked for half an hour. Lately I'll take the kids to kindergarten in the morning and when I get back home, I start the work.

One of the biggest benefits of working from home is also the biggest challenge. When you work from the comfort of your home, the boundaries of time and space disappear. You can work almost anywhere anytime. You need to be more aware of work and follow a few principles. As the boundary between work and home is blurred, it is important to strengthen time boundaries, to better separate working hours.

Furthermore, the emphasis in home office is not on the amount of working time, but on efficiency and the tasks performed. We don't have to work 8 hours a day at home just because our official working hours are 8 hours anyway.

- As a parent, what are the biggest challenges in the home office?

Zsolt: As a parent, the biggest challenge is to spend enough quality time with the children. It's not that easy when they're young, because by the time I finish work, it's already evening and they're sleepy or asleep. As a spouse, the situation is similar, by the time the house calms down and the children are asleep, we are often too tired to spend quality time together.

As a worker, it is a big challenge for me to focus, especially if I am interrupted several times (or I "adventure" myself in search of other things to do). It's not like you close the door at 8 and open it at 16, and it doesn't have to be that way.

In order for someone to work well in marital, parental, or friendly relationships in addition to their role as an employee, they need to learn to schedule their time properly. Of course, this is not always possible, as responsibilities are constantly changing, depending on the life cycle of the family.

- How do you separate work and private life?

Norbi: I now have the opportunity to have a room designated as an office. I think it's important to have a room, a corner, a nook from which you work. For me, this physical, tangible boundary between privacy and work is important. The kids also learned that I work in that room and that they shouldn't bother me. Of course, they would not be kids if they didn't come in anyway. :)

However, when I'm talking, it's not typical for them to disturb. I have a clearly visible headset on my head, if they see it on my head, they know I'm talking to someone. For me, the way to lock myself completely didn't work, because they were banging on the door. So when they see exactly what I'm doing is more effective. With children, this separation between private life and work is even more difficult, it is also the biggest challenge, because not only do you have to sort it out with yourself, but children also have to understand and learn that mother / father has to work, even if they are home.

Zsolt: I work in a separate room and we plan the next day with my wife, so that everyone has the time they need. Of course it doesn't always come together...

- How do children experience the fact that dad works from home?

Zsolt: I don't know for sure, but I think they like it. Of course, it was hard to explain to my older daughter why she had to go to kindergarten when I was home.

- Many people separate privacy from work by enclosing themselves in their home-based office. How do you draw boundaries?

Zsolt: I don't close the door, if the child comes in, he stays quiet. As much as we can, we discuss things in advance and if something goes wrong, well that's it, we adapt. In general, colleagues understand the situation. I also just when I see others in a similar situation during a video call.

- How can you find a work-life balance?

Zsolt: With routines, and I try to write a to-do list with daily tasks. I always leave time for things that are not work related but important: children, wife, family. So I don't feel guilty for not spending enough time with them and the work is going better. Sometimes I work late because of this, but that's not a problem for me.

Frame working hours, organize and prioritize tasks, schedule breaks. Make a to do list, with your partner or even the kids. Task lists written together can make it easier to reconcile family life with work tasks.

It is also important for children to be able to express their feelings and opinions about the topic and to be involved in planning and solving the problem. These conversations also help them to think together, collaborate, and develop a sense of responsibility.

- One of the great advantages of a home office is a flexible schedule. Do you divide your day? When are you most productive?

Csaba: Yes, I am much more productive in the evening, this is when the child is with me, but usually he is already asleep. Even if he is more grouchy, he doesn't disturb her mother, so she can rest and I can do better with my work than during the day when everyone is active.

- Why do you like working from home?

Norbi: One of the great benefits of working from home for me is that I shape my daily routine myself.

The other big benefit is that the kids feel like I'm always home, even when I work. That's why my relationship with the kids is closer, deeper. We have breakfast together. If they are home, we have lunch together. If they're not in the kindergarten because they're sick, I'm still at home, I'm also near when they're with my grandparents. I'll take them out of the kindergarten. And I could go on and on.

-What lessons did you learn from working from home?

Csaba: Divide the work. I also do what I planned for the day, otherwise after a while it is very easy to fall into the trap of procrastination.

One of the basic conditions for successful work from home is not having to explain to the client or company manager, who are most afraid that if they are not "in the fore" they will not work as if they were in an office.

Working from home requires a high degree of flexibility and self-discipline. This is especially true if someone is working as a parent in a home office. We need to learn to adapt to the new situation, instead of procrastinating, we need to learn to schedule our time properly.

-How did working from home affect friendships and work relationships?

Zsolt: After the birth of a child, you may feel that everything revolves around the child and that friendships become less frequent. It's a really bad feeling because you feel like you have nothing to do with the outside world. This is not helped if someone works from home and does not see one's colleagues. We are social beings. That is why I think it is important that we pay attention to this and maintain these friendships.

So we see that working at home as a parent can also present a number of practical and emotional difficulties. Many times the pressure is very high, but standing perfectly in everything is neither realistic nor necessary.

Some of the loneliness can be alleviated by the emotional support of team members. It is everyone's job to take care of each other and make sure workplace relationships are a priority. A simple check-in, a kind word can go a long way in creating a pleasant work atmosphere.

-What impact did the home office have on your working relationships and professional development?

Csaba: For me, one of the issues of home office is the lack of colleagues who can be consulted in case of problems. I replaced this with the establishment of professional partnerships and continuous documentation. I have also invested financially in my own development, whether it is a paid product or a conference, I am always up to date with what is new in my field.

As a parent, you also need to provide time and adequate financial resources for self-development, as you can be a pioneer in your own field if you regularly update your knowledge.

-Tell some tips for parents who are just starting work from home or who are working from home and will now be parents.

Norbi: For a parent with a small child, working from home can be very blessed, considering a few rules you set for yourself:

  • always have a daily goal; establish a daily routine, even if one day is not going according to the usual schedule, because something needs to be done;
  • have a working corner / room; if possible do not work in pyjamas;
  • it is good if the transition from private life to work is not only done by getting up from the table, but also taking a short walk (even with the children, with the family), going to the kindergarten / school for the child;
  • it's good to keep in touch with your co-workers on a daily basis, even for just a few minutes of conversation;
  • kids need to know that even when you're at home, you work; you can explain to them what work is, why it is necessary, and they will understand this, if you have an established daily routine, then they can adapt to it.

As you can see the home office is also something that no one knows how to do perfectly: veterans, beginners and occasional home officers alike. You need to constantly test things and develop a routine that works for you.