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Telecommuter tips: 5 dos and dont’s for working parents with toddlers

December 30, 2014

Working from home is different. Now before you say “duh, obviously!” let me accept that obviously it’s different from working in office but what I want to point out is its very different from working occasionally (or off office hours) from home, specially if you are doing this to oversee an infant child or toddler as a parent over a longish period. Lack of discipline, that didn’t matter earlier, will magnify the problems that you want to attend to by working from home.

I have been doing this now for over a year for at least 2 days every week, while I shuttle between two cities for work. Here are a few must dos and dont’s:

1. Set clear work timings at home even if you have flexible timings at office. Let your colleagues and family know about this. If you have a working spouse, it’s all the more important since she/he will plan their day based on you. You are likely to be more productive from home (unless you are the extinct sort who is not answerable at work or gets distracted by the temptation of watching TV all day), so plan work within fixed timelines. When you are working, you are working. When you are not you are not.

2. Don’t try to manage your kid and work simultaneously when the nanny doesn’t turn up. You are better off taking time off from work and focussing at the needs of your child. On most occasions you can work different hours to catch up on the work later. I have goofed up on this a few times and only been remorseful for getting irritated and angry with my child (ashamedly, I was not angry or irritated with my work!). In any case you won’t be able to focus on work. It’s a lose – lose game trying to be a superhero. The kind who get to multitask everything perfectly exist in ads alone.

3. Work from a space where you don’t get disturbed by your child when you are working and the child can’t see you all the time. It’s good for you both. It’s the same with your spouse and other family members. My daughter who is less than 2 years old reluctantly accepts to let me be alone when her nanny is around. But she gets very demanding when the nanny leaves because she believes it’s her time with me now. On the other hand I have to explain the same concept repeatedly to my wife 🙂

4. Take breaks to check on your child. Breaks will help you be more at peace now that you have checked on your kid. Short breaks are also important when you work for frequent long periods from home as it can be very exhausting working from a confined place alone. If you are the control-freak kinds, try using a nanny cam. I found some good affordable options with Dlink. You can hook them up on Internet and access the live video footage from anywhere in the world.

5. Make space for exceptions to the above when left with no options. Learn to improvise. Distractions that will keep your child busy for sometime should be top-of-the-mind recall and a loving neighbour or aunt should be on speed dial!

It’s not going to be perfect but the above has helped me reduce my pains. Happy telecommuting! Happy parenting!

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 31, 2014 7:11 am

    Reblogged this on Skip Your Commute.

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