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How to Work from Home with Rambunctious Children in the House

You might be taken aback by a title that contains the phrase work with rambunctious children, but this topic has come up during different client sessions and seminars. You can substitute the word rambunctious with other adjectives like active, hyper, curious, free-spirited, bored, ADHD, ADD, creative, wild…. No matter which term you use, unless your child is inactive and introverted, you likely have some type of challenge sheltering in place.

It comes down to this: You’re trying to work in a place that is not your office, which is usually quiet and operates with an understanding of business etiquette and behavior. Your kids are used to structured activities, supervised breaks in between and plenty of opportunities for socializing with a variety of people.

Then the Coronavirus / COVID-19 caused us to put these two worlds under one roof – and possibly in only one to two rooms, depending on the size of your home. And then we wonder why things aren’t so smooth.

Even though it’s been roughly five to seven weeks since most of us were required to work from home, not everyone has fully grasped being able to get work done while trying to parent at the same time. If you’re in that boat, here are two different scenarios my clients have encountered and the (short version of) solutions we put into place to create a productive, peaceful household.

  1. “My four-year-old interrupts my wife and me throughout the day, so it’s hard for us to get work done. I can’t be having a tea party with her when I need to work.”

Why not? You both need a break. You and your wife can tag team on work times so that one of you is available for your daughter. When she takes a nap or watches her “movie of the day” this can be when you’re both getting work done. Operating in this manner will take some planning on your part, but if you and your wife spend 10 minutes each evening deciding on what time your monitoring times are and what activities you’ll offer your daughter the next day, you’ll have fewer interruptions. (If you want to be super organized, share calendars with each other so that you can plan your meetings around what the other spouse has already booked.) While you might feel that your work day stretches from 7 A.M. until 7 P.M., you’re not actually working that entire time. You’ll have a total of about four to five hours of personal time interspersed in there for spending time with your daughter. I also encourage you to share the next day’s schedule with your daughter both verbally in the evening and on the wall in some kind of chart form (like a chore chart) so she can start learning how to tell time and understand schedules. This won’t be new to her. She has this system in pre-school. It can work at home, too.

  • “My boys are driving me nuts. They can’t sit still. I can’t concentrate. What do I do with my rambunctious kids?”

Do they have “recess time” scheduled throughout the day? Think about what kind of environment they were in before they were forced to stay at home 24/7. They were able to horse around and visit with friends before class started in the morning. Your son in elementary school was in an activity schedule and rotated stations throughout the day, plus had a recess break, lunch break and P.E. Your middle school son had a six minute break once an hour in order to move to a different class, so he had physical movement plus social time. And he had a lunch break and P.E. I recommend you sit down with your boys and create similar schedules at home. Do they want to do school work and chores all morning, then have “free time” in the afternoon? Do they want 45 minutes to an hour of school or chore time, then a 30-minute break, operating this way from, say, 8:00 – 4:00? The key is that their breaks should be at the same time so they’re not interrupting each other with noise or asking the other if they want to do something. If possible, schedule your breaks at the same time so you can touch base with your boys throughout the day. They behave at school because there are rewards and consequences. They can operate the same way at home.

Children thrive in structure. Creative, active kids definitely need structure in order to thrive. Structure doesn’t mean that they’re buckled down in school books for the entire day. Structure means there’s a time for school, there’s a time for chores, there’s a time for independent play, there’s a time for meals and there’s a time for quality family time – and everyone is clear on what these are and why this is important.

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas to use as a springboard for your situation. But if you’re still feeling a little down about the whole situation, here’s some silver lining to consider….

One of my mastermind group members shared a photo of a sign that read: “In 20 years, our country will be run by people homeschooled by day drinkers.” Another member responded with:

“I think it will make our kids resilient and resourceful. They will be great bartenders as they have learned to make our drinks, figure out how to do with less, and have mastered the tech world better than being in a classroom ever would teach them. Cheers to these brats that drive us to drink.”

My response was: “In all seriousness, they may have learned better face to face communication skills that the last generation of kids didn’t have to develop because they weren’t stuck at home with their family.”

Hang in there. We’ll all get through The Great Pandemic of 2020, and we’ll come out even stronger on the other side of this.

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead? The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits. Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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