In the eight years of working from home with my children around I have probably seen and done most of the crazy things you are now about to experience.

I've fed a baby in a high chair while typing up my stock market column, taken phone calls with the bathroom door locked and a screaming toddler outside and held a hand over the phone so the person on the other end couldn't hear my child telling me for the fourth time they are hungry.

But working parents, there are ways to get through this. Or at least survive as best you can.

Dont expect to work a normal work day

Advertisement

By now you probably already know it's not like going into the office - there are going to be interruptions. Lots of them.

If you think about it there are also interruptions in the office. Meetings, chats with workmates around the water cooler, more meetings.

It's just now your interruptions will be more guided by your children. You could lock them out of your home office - if you have one. But if you are working on the dining room table this will be impossible.

Make it clear to the children you are working - some have suggested putting on a "work hat". But if they really need your help with something it's okay to stop and do it. Giving them some attention now could buy you time to get some work done later.

Age matters
If you have pre-schoolers let's face it - getting work done is going to be tough. Best options are to work when they nap and work in the evening when they go to bed.

Work when your toddler naps. Photo / file.
Work when your toddler naps. Photo / file.

Alternatively, if both parents are working from home you could take it in turns to work or take shifts.

When the idea of schools being shut was first floated I suggested to my husband I work the 6am to midday shift (I normally start at 6.30am and finish at 2pm) and he do the midday to 6pm shift.

We haven't done this yet but it could be on the cards.

Advertisement

If you normally work part-time you could spread your hours over the week because let's face it, you can't go out on the other days.

School-age children should be able to be a little more self-sufficient (well, those over 7 or 8 depending on the child). Remind yourself that at school there is one teacher to 20-plus kids so they don't get constant one-on-one attention there either.

Set them a task to do, whether it is school work, playing outside or an activity, and work when they are occupied. Then check in with them so they feel like they are getting your attention.

Or if this isn't working. Play with them for half an hour first in whatever activity they want to do and then try the above.

Teenagers, I've yet to get to this stage with my kids, but I hear the bigger issue is getting them off devices. They should be able to entertain themselves.

Prepare the kids ahead of taking that important phone call or online meeting, if you can. Photo / file
Prepare the kids ahead of taking that important phone call or online meeting, if you can. Photo / file

Phone calls/online meetings

If you have an important phone call/meeting coming up prep the family first. Tell them it's important they don't interrupt - try to remove yourself to a separate space.

If your other half is working from home ask them to supervise children at this point so you don't have to stress about the interruption.

Offer rewards of your time doing something they want to be doing if they don't interrupt.

Last resort
Let's be honest - as parents most of us have turned to Nanny Sony or Nanny Panasonic at some point to get a few minutes peace.

But try to keep the TV or other electronic devices up your sleeve for when you really need them.

If you start the day with TV it's going to be hard to get them off it and that will only create a big hooha when you decide it has to go off.

That is not going to be conducive to you getting work done.

Lastly, good luck. We are all in this together. It's not only you trying to work from home with the kids but also your boss - hopefully that means they will also be able to relate and be a lot more understanding.