Working from home with little kids

JANANI KARTHIK asked parents with pre-school aged children how they keep them occupied as they settle into their home-office routines.

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JANANI KARTHIK asked parents with pre-school aged children how they keep them occupied as they settle into their home-office routines.
Pradeep Kumar at work.

These days my three-and-a-half year-old is into ‘cooking’. I give her my ‘order’ from ‘the menu’ and small cups of real ingredients while I work. I keep asking how she’s going and whether my order will be ready, just to keep her going. She’s ‘cooked’ me dosas and rotis and pancakes!

Afterwards she taps away on her cash register toy and I get a few more minutes while ‘restaurant’ game continues a bit more. It’s great role play and she enjoys it. She’s also into clay and dough and magic sand; I don’t mind at all that it makes a mess as it gives me a longish quiet stretch!

Sometimes I’ll buy her a new toy and I know she’ll be engrossed in it for a couple of days at least. I asked other parents with young kids how they keep their kids engaged as they work from home.

Akshaya Sridharan: I’ve printed out colouring worksheets to engage my three-year-old daughter. She spends an hour colouring, and I finish the important tasks of the day. Later, I allow her to do my make-up: it cheers her up. I’ll do anything to keep her settled and happy while I work!

Narayanaswamy: My wife and I have come up with many creative activities to keep our son, four-and-half, busy throughout the day. We know his interests quite well, so we plan certain puzzle activities with a checklist to tick-off. My nine-year-old daughter joins in to support my WFH schedule.

Bharathwajan Parthasarathy: This is the time to be extremely supportive partners. My wife and I have split our working hours and we take turns to be with our daughter. This way, we both work efficiently. We finish any incomplete work of the day after our daughter goes to bed at night. This routine involves teamwork and a lot of mutual understanding.

Bharathwajan Parthasarathy with his three-year-old daughter Nayonika and her cousin Nishevitha

Smitha Wali: I’ve recently taken a Disney subscription! I get two solid hours of productivity while my daughter watches a film, and she also learn interesting things. Of course, I only do this when I really need to focus on important work.

Karthik Krishnakumar: I’ve become flexible with my child’s screen time now. When I have meetings, important calls or other important work, I let her watch cartoons. To make up for those hours, I ensure she has zero screen time after work hours are done.

Ramya Madan: I found that my daughter disturbs or distracts us only when she wants something. First thing in the morning, I keep all her stuff ready and accessible to her – toys, colouring in stuff, puzzles – so that she doesn’t need to ask me when I’m working. This saves a considerable amount of time while I’m shuttling between household chores and office work.

Ashna Wilson wrote: No toys or puzzles can keep my three-year-old daughter engaged – she wants to do what I do at home. So, I give her a spare laptop and open a notepad and she types away besides me. When my little colleague is busy with her work, I get time for myself!

Deepa Gnanamani: This is an extraordinary situation, and it requires us to be super-organised. We need to be flexible with our own daily schedule too.  Like sleeping hours. If you wake up a few hours earlier than your little one, and stay awake for a couple of hours after their bedtime, you can do wonders at work. At night, I finish my cooking for the next day. Yes, it sounds difficult, but it helps for a hassle-free day.

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