People in every industry have had to navigate through a new way of working, including working with children at home. If you find yourself at home, especially with a preschooler, and trying to get work done, have meetings via Zoom, and meet deadlines – you’re probably wondering how to get it all done.
Read on for my five best tips on dealing with work zoom calls and kids.
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5 Ways to Occupy Kids When You’re On a Work Zoom Call
5,000 now working-from-home parents took a Thrive Global survey and answered questions that dealt with the pain points arising from the change in their work environment. Eighty percent were looking for actionable ways to stay productive and focused while also finding solutions for occupying their kids.
Maybe you’re working from home and homeschooling during Coronavirus. Or maybe it’s a more long-term situation. Whatever the case, take heart.
You do have options to try instead of getting frustrated at your preschooler’s lack of understanding for your job, or trying to hide in the closet.
Before diving into some practical ways to occupy children while you participate in work Zoom calls, it’s important to set some clear boundaries. Establish set rules for children to follow from an early age about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior when mom must participate in Zoom meetings.
When it comes to work Zoom calls and kids schedules, it’s likely you’ll be trying to juggle your video call during a weekday. And chances are you’ll be tuning into your work Zoom call from a laptop or desktop computer. That means your smartphone is free!
Treat the kids by giving your preschooler or kindergarten-aged children the phone to tune into a kid-friendly podcast show.
Select a storytime, like the free podcast by WBUR called Circle Round. Or perhaps you’d prefer something educational, meditational, or musical. The trick here is to find something that totally captures your children’s attention.
Here are a few podcasts to check out and add to your list:
I’d suggest letting your children listen to one or two of these podcasts for kids BEFORE you start your first work from home Zoom calls with kids in the house. You can find a podcast they love, and when they’re familiar with one they’ll be eager to listen to it again when you have a video meeting.
Thanks to our technologically advanced society, children as young as preschool age can now enjoy developmentally appropriate learn-at-home programs. One in particular to try is Scholastic’s learn at home program. It offers children from preschool ages to the 9th grade day-to-day projects to keep them reading and learning.
Your kids will enjoy watching videos, reading books, writing, drawing, and even singing! Keep in mind you’ll need a second laptop, desktop, or a tablet for your child to use. And you might want to invest in a second set of headphones as well to keep the noise level in your home down.
Virtual Trips & Tours
One of the hottest online learning tools this year has been virtual trips and tours. Since the beginning of the C-19 pandemic, museums and zoos have opened their online doors to giving children a virtual experience all from the comfort of the living room.
Make it a real “event” by including popcorn, a special drink, or another snack for kids to enjoy while you’re on your Zoom call.
Set Up a Pretend Office
Kids love nothing more than mimicking their number one influencer – that’s you, Mom! Remember, as a work from home mom you have the opportunity to model a work from home life your kids can aspire to.
A fun and innovative way to keep your preschooler occupied is to let them set up a pretend office to “work at” while you’re on your calls. Make this a special area for them to use only when you’re on your call. You may just be surprised what they’ll come up with when given a small table, a chair, some books, and a few toys from their toy box.
Explain how a real office environment works and let them know they need to play quietly, but have fun at the same time. Give them a “job” to do, such as taking phone calls or writing notes. You could even combine this with an educational game, podcast or virtual trip when you’re trying to juggle longer work Zoom calls and kids.
When you know your day’s schedule includes a video meeting from home, occupy your school-aged children with some hands-on creative arts. However, choose activities that don’t require your supervision. Otherwise, you could find yourself dealing with a huge cleanup after your call!
Pull out a very special “art supplies” box that contains items ONLY for use when you’re on a call. Include neon poster board, unusual stickers, gel pens, patterned paper, or any other textured paper. Give your child scented crayons, glittery coloring pencils or washable markers, patterning safety scissors, and a glitter glue stick. Then ether give them a creative art “assignment” or tell them to let their creative juices flow.
The idea is not only to keep them occupied but to also give them a sense of free play. If you have time to prep ahead of time, choose an actual art technique such as creating a collage. Pre-cut paper for them if they are not able to use scissors just yet.
With a little planning, creativity, and a sense of humor, it is indeed possible to handle work Zoom calls with kids around.