Working From Home With Kids: A Fine Balance

by Pranav Ramesh
March 30, 2022

(The following article is a guest post by contributor Mehak Chopra)

So, there I was, my toddler son playing under my desk with an old cheerio that he found, unwilling to go to his playpen. I fenced him in between my feet to keep him from crawling away and dangled a toy near his face to keep his attention. Simultaneously, I tried to maintain composure on an important video call that I was running with my CEO while frequently muting the call mid-conversation when the toddler screamed.   

If you’re a work-from-home parent with little kids, you know this is just another Tuesday. 

On this particular occasion, the toddler won. After seeing my face appear and disappear on camera multiple times in quick succession my CEO, Nick Shah, burst out laughing and suggested I reschedule the call during my son’s naptime.  

My son was 3.5 months old when I came back to work. Today, because I work from home, I find myself making calls while changing diapers, playing peek-a-boo with my baby (and occasionally my boss) while taking notes, and my version of a good day is one where the baby doesn’t vomit on my shirt in the middle of a meeting.      

 

The struggle is real, guys 

But there are ways to make it work. Here are a few ways that I find myself staying on point while I juggle the baby and the job:  

 

Maintain composure on calls 

People can relate. Babies, children of all ages, and pets have been popping into zoom calls since 2020. It’s not unusual to see a colleague’s family stroll past the background of a video call. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world. 

If you’re thinking “Why not just keep the camera off?”—that’s not always an option. People don’t usually appreciate being interviewed by recruiters who keep their cameras turned off and it’s not unusual for candidates to refuse the interview in such situations.  

 

Stay energetic and on point  

Recruitment, as a profession, requires a great deal of commitment. While we do have traditional work hours, the reality of the job is that the work never really ends. And neither does parenting. 

Being a working parent means juggling two full-time jobs. And most of us are up for the challenge. But to find success and job satisfaction, we need employers and managers who shape office policy and work culture that support us in all aspects of our life. At PTP, I can honestly say, we have managed to create this kind of culture.  

I do work harder when I know that I am supported at the office, finding hours in the day that I can make up for missed time elsewhere. I am motivated because I feel seen in my workplace. 

RELATED: 5 Ways to Enhance Productivity and Engagement in a Virtual Work Environment

The ABCs of entertaining a toddler in the middle of work 

If you have a baby on the way or struggling in a situation like mine, some of these tips might help you stay sane during the next few months: 

  1. Take entertainment breaks frequently—I usually try to spend 15 mins with my son before the start of my meeting. I play with him or feed him to make him comfortable so that I can attend my meetings with my camera on without any distractions. I know this way he will not need me for another half-hour or so and he can play independently. 
  1. Create a safe play environment—If you can corral the child in a safe play environment, where they are surrounded by the things they like to play with, that’ll leave you free to focus on your work for a while. My trick is to make him sit in a walker or stroller, on the carpet with all his toys near him, and the doors closed. This way he stays safely entertained.  
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — Every day is a different day with kids. Most of the time I am alone at home, but I am always open to asking for help from friends and family as needed. Some days are harder than others.   

 

What keeps me going? 

These last few months, I have considered taking a break from my career. I know it is a privilege to have the option to put things on pause with my career till my son was a little older.  

But the truth is, I enjoy my job. I enjoy going to work, interacting with different people, understanding their worldviews, learning a little every day. Being an independent professional means a lot to me and this helps me get up every morning to tackle a new day (even on those tough Monday mornings!). “I Can Do It,” was my mom’s favorite line for whenever things started to get tough, and these few months it has become my favorite too!        

 

Conclusion 

Being a parent is the joy of my life. And work gives me confidence and validation. It’s a fine balance and although most days things work out, we do need to acknowledge the struggle and the stress that comes with it. What helps is working for an organization that understands these struggles and actively tries to help you through them.  

This has been my story as a relatively new mother with a full-time work-from-home job. I’m sure there are parents out there with other challenges, whose children are at a different stage of their lives, who have some amazing stories of their own to share. Help is always welcome and so is good advice. If you have anything you’d like to share about your own experiences with parenthood and work, I would love to hear them! 

By Mehak Chopra

(Technical Manager

Peterson Technology Partners)

 

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About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has partnered with some of the biggest Fortune brands to offer excellence of service and best-in-class team building for the last 25 years.

PTP’s diverse and global team of recruiting, consulting, and project development experts specialize in a variety of IT competencies which include:

  • Cybersecurity
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  • Salesforce Optimization
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Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunities employer. As an industry leader in IT consulting and recruitment, specializing in diversity hiring, we aim to help our clients build equitable workplaces.

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