Working remotely as a mother of 3

Hats off and respect to all remote workers with small children! You rock! 

First, I have to admit that I started working remotely when my kids already went to school and despite the general struggles you experience when working remotely, I usually have a quite normal workday schedule compared to parents with toddlers. 

Secondly, forget that image of a remote worker sitting in bed in their pajamas with the laptop sipping cafe latte all day long. 

Working remotely surely has a lot of advantages like hanging out the laundry or quickly emptying the dishwasher between two meetings (instead of having a coffee break as you might do in a non-remote workplace), but my workday is very well structured and I don’t wear pajamas as I’ve at least one video call a day 😀

My typical workday looks like this:

5:30 a.m.I get up really early to get some housework done before waking up the kids – also to not getting distracted during my work time by that stuff
6:15 a.m.I wake up the kids and prepare breakfast and snacks to take to school
7:00 a.m.As soon as the kids leave the house, I start working by saying good morning on Slack – besides me, there are a few other early birds so I don’t feel lonely at that time of the day 😉
morningI try to structure my day into ‘deep work’ and ‘communication work’ – for the first one I really need to be undisturbed in order to focus on my tasks, with the later I mean meetings, checking e-mails, being present on Slack – I usually do this right in the morning, before my lunch break and before going offline in the late afternoon (sometimes also in between).
noonLunch break – I try to prepare food the evening before or defrost some left-overs in order to go for a short walk and have some fresh air instead of cooking.
2:00 p.m.my oldest son comes home and needs food, but if I’ve a meeting at that time he is old enough to help himself and put his lunch in the microwave
4:00 p.m.Until then I have more (focus) time, but then I need to run to the bus station to pick up my youngest son who’s still in elementary school
eveningUsually, I try to finish my workday at 4:00 p.m., but that doesn’t always work and after having some time with the kids and preparing dinner, I jump back on for a bit or when there is a meeting at 4:00 p.m., I try to pick him up earlier.

All in all, this sounds like a well-structured remote workday with enough time to fit in the kids and daily chores, BUT as real-life looks different, let me tell you more about what happens when the kids are home due to illness, quarantine, lockdown, or whatever reason…

First, I still get up at 5:30 a.m. and try to get as much work done as possible before they get up, then I’ll have a short (30 minute) break to prepare breakfast and have a chat and discuss their plans. Usually, they get lots of tasks from school to do at home, but I’ve to help (at least my youngest son) to prepare his work schedule. So, during the lockdown, we did the (school) timetable on Sunday evenings planning in several breaks during the day where he was allowed to either watch ‘school’ TV or play lego or spend some time outside. The older ones are already in high school and I trusted them to do their own schedules.

Additional to their timetables, I always informed them about my timetable. Of course, I tried to align our lunch (and other) breaks, but I also let them know when I have meetings where they are only allowed to disturb if it’s a life-or-death matter. 

Unfortunately, we have a different understanding of what a life-or-death matter is and so it happened that all 3 of them burst into my office at once where I was in a video call and they started shouting at each other because they were fighting over the last muffin🙈 Thus, it’s always good to let your colleagues know that first, you have children, and second, that they sometimes don’t behave as expected 😉

School photo created by bristekjegor – www.freepik.com
Mother using laptop and tablet teaching with her son online at home in his room

Here are my personal tips for working remotely with kids (at home):

  • get the best internet available for your area as everyone will need it at the same time for online learning, video calls, watching youtube, working
  • print out a big red STOP sign or similar ⛔️ to put on your (office) door to signal them (physically) that they can’t come in and take it down if they can come in again 😀
  • discuss everyone’s schedule on the round family table
  • plan breaks for everyone and don’t forget yourself!
  • get up early to head out early
  • tell your colleagues that you’ve kids at home
  • give your kids small tasks to do like taking out the trash or setting the table
  • don’t stress yourself 🧘‍♀️

If you had any doubts that working remotely can work in the long term, I hope I could eliminate these? I’m sure it might not be the right thing for everyone – just try it and you will know🚀❤️ 🦸‍♀️

For further reading, I can recommend the following:

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