As a school aged child, I remember trips to my dad’s office when he worked overtime on weekends. His office was outside the home, but my brother and I would draw on paper scraps while he got real work done. Something as simple as paper and several pen colors turned an otherwise boring trip to dad’s office into something we looked forward to.
In an ideal universe remote work would allow you to schedule your work day around your kids’ schedules, but reality often means work and family schedules conflict. Eliminating sharp corners and cables will make your home office safer for your child, but that’s not the end of your job. There will be times when work requires your full attention and the kids need to entertain themselves. When that happens, a YES environment in your office area will allow you to focus on work, while keeping the kids entertained at the same time.
It’s tempting to hand the kids a tablet or smartphone and let them watch videos until you are done working. It’s certainly much easier than my own parenting experience, where a VCR or DVD player were the key to entertainment for my son. When a screen is the only thing that will work, consider having educational materials on hand. As she got older, I incentivized Duo Lingo Spanish lessons for my daughter will small amounts of cash for completing lessons.
A small table with some blank paper and washable markers goes a long way toward creating a home working environment everyone can live with. Kids like to be close by. An activity table is a great way for them to feel close without needing to frequently interrupt.
Your need to focus on work is also a good opportunity to teach expectation management. Kids are very inclined to want immediate attention, but they also quickly adapt to boundaries if you consistently live up to your end of the deal. I started pretty early letting my kids know that I was available in 5 minutes or at the end of some observable event, like the end of their favorite show. I made sure the time was something I could personally commit to because it reinforced the idea that when I said I would do something, I did. Managing expectations like this is a life skill that will carry your kids into adulthood with coping skills for many life situations.
The one thing all the suggestions in my series on child proofing your home office for remote work have in common is the theme of creating an environment where NO isn’t required. Putting important papers out of reach means not having to say, ‘No, don’t touch that.’ Eliminating extra computer cables means fewer opportunities requiring the phrase, ‘No, don’t pull on that.’ Covering outlets and power strips means never having to react in fear as your child plays with a live power cable. Providing entertainment for kids lets them keep being kids, allowing them the security of being close to the action, while keeping them safe and making remote work the joy it should be.