Working from Home with a Preschooler Is Possible: It Just Takes Some Flexibility and Ingenuity Image

12 Tips for Working Remotely with Young Children

by Prescolaire | December 3, 2020

A growing number of parents have been forced to work from home during the pandemic. According to many firms, that move could become permanent. For parents working remotely has some undeniable benefits, but for many, especially parents of young children, it’s been a challenge. In fact, a recent Microsoft survey revealed that 54% of parents found it challenging to balance their personal responsibilities while working from home. That percentage rose dramatically among Gen Z’s and Millennials, who are most likely to be the parents of young children.

For many parents, however, working from home is a new reality, and it isn’t going away. There are ways that you and your family can work and thrive in this new environment. Here are a few tips to help you manage:

Maintain Routines

It may seem like everything has been thrown to the wind when it comes to your family schedule, but routines still matter. This is especially true for preschoolers. Try to keep basic routines such as eating, snacking, nap and bedtime the same. Add a few new routines that they can expect: a pre-nap walk or trip to the park, for example. This gives your preschooler something they can look forward to and expect and makes the times when you are less accessible easier for them to manage.

Consider Parenting Pods

If you have another working family you are close to, consider setting up a parenting pod and sharing supervising duties with them.

Set Boundaries

It’s ok to tell your preschooler that she is not allowed to interrupt when Mommy is on the phone. Preschoolers can also be expected to play quietly during a meeting. The key here is to set clear ground rules and to allow for some noisier play and interruptions when you can handle them.  

Leverage Down Time

If your preschooler still naps, take advantage and plan tasks that require your full concentration or presence for naptime. If he sleeps in, then consider waking up earlier. If your work is flexible, take advantage of the hour or so after he falls asleep.

Virtual Playdates

These can be tricky because most preschoolers engage in associative play with their friends. They are just on the cusp of playing with friends, so you’ll often see children this age playing side by side or mimicking the play of others. You can successfully do this virtually as well. Set up a Zoom or Google Hangout playdate and let the kids color together. You can also pair this with parents taking turns reading or doing an activity with the kids.

Virtual Babysitters

Again, leverage your favorite video chat app and let your kids catch up with aunts and uncles or grandparents. This works really well with an iPad or similar mobile device so your preschooler can “show” their virtual babysitter their toys, crafts or favorite things.

Offer Rewards

Bribery might be an underrated parenting technique. Consider keeping coveted snacks (even candies) or something your child is rarely allowed to use close at hand for those inevitable moments when they’ve had enough, and you need more. Use these sparingly though and only in absolutely critical times. Avoid creating the expectation that she’ll receive a treat every time.

Take a Break

You take breaks for coffee and chats at work. Do the same at home. Bring your child with you to “help” make your coffee. Take a five-minute play break or if your schedule is flexible, allow yourself time to take a walk or go outside.

Share the Workload

All too often, one parent seems to take on more of the “parenting” role in a work from home arrangement. If that works for your family and no one’s work suffers for it, there is nothing wrong with this. However, it can lead to additional stress. Be open about your expectations and workload with your partner. Work out an equitable sharing arrangement that allows both of you to complete your work while sharing parenting duties.  

Snack and Drink Stations

Set up areas where your child can access snacks and drinks on their own. Set a time when they are allowed to access the snacks if you like. Getting her own snacks and drinks will help your preschooler become more independent. It will also buy you extra work time.

Relax Screen Time Rules

You may prefer to stick to your house rules when it comes to screen time but in a work from home environment that may not always be possible. If you find you need to allow more screen time, try to focus on a few educational games or TV programs that educate and inspire.

Create Activity Centers

These could include anything from playdough to building blocks to crafting stations. If you’re worried about a possible mess, cover the floor with a garbage bag. Just set the materials out and let your preschooler “discover” them for himself. It will increase the fun.

Working from home with a preschooler isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible. With a little flexibility and ingenuity, it can actually work and be fun for the entire family.

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