Toy sitting at a desk.

Parents’ New Reality — Working From Home with Kids (and How to Survive It)

Now, the family is home for an unknown period of time, with a restriction on leaving the house and seeing friends… let chaos reign!

6 min read

With most of the world working from home due to COVID-19, many people have to come to terms with a very new reality. All people within a workforce will be facing new challenges, and some groups will be facing multi-dimensional ones — in this particular case, parents!

Usually when working from home as a parent your child is (or children are) at kindergarten or school. If they are home, you usually know it is for a limited time only. Now, the family is home for an unknown period of time, with a restriction on leaving the house and seeing friends… let chaos reign!

Here’s how some of my fellow parents at N26 and I are handling the situation.

Monika — Internal Communications

Monika, IC lead.

My son is almost five. I am in the lucky position of having a partner who isn’t currently working. This means that he can take care of our son all day while I am working.

For me, being in a position of working from home every day has been really wonderful. In the “Office Days”, I would wake up, sneak out of the house, get to work by 7:00, with the intention of working my eight hours and leaving at 16:00. This inevitably becomes 17:00, and then once home, it’s dinner time, and then bedtime. So I spend about 2.5 hours with my son every weekday.

Working from home has meant I get to wake up around 6:00, start working from 7:00, and see my son as soon as he wakes up. EVERY MORNING! Then he and his dad hang out, but at lunch we eat together. Every day! And then, whether I finish at 16:00 or even a bit later, my son is there as soon as I finish. There is no commute, he can also visit me whilst I am working, and I get cuddles all day long :)

Of course, I am looking forward to him going back to kindergarten, but that has a lot more to do with my son being able to see all of his friends again, and my knowing that he is learning and not watching TV…

My tips to parents:

  • Rather than feel bad about the amount of screen time your child might end up having, research educational programs so you at least know they’re getting something out of it.
  • If you do have the time, watch things with them and show interest in the shows. I have been surprised by the lovely conversations I’ve had with my son about shows he’s watched, and realise that had I not been watching it with him too, I would have missed out on something he found important or interesting enough to discuss at a later point.
  • Involve your child/children in as much as possible. Let them help you vacuum, bake, tidy things up. This doesn’t just establish great behaviour, it makes them feel included, takes up some more time where they don’t have to be entertaining themselves, and allows you to share quality moments.
  • Explain your work to them. At moments when you’re not having meetings, show them what you’re working on and why it is important or why it interests you. Let them get to know the side of their parents they don’t see.

Olivier — Product

N26 Product employee.

My partner and I have an almost-3-year-old son whose school has been shut for two-and-a-half weeks.

We are both working, and had to be a little creative when it came to working from home. The solution we found was taking shifts:

  • I start my work day around 6:30–7:00 and finish at about lunch time, usually 13:30, while my partner does the morning routine and takes care of our son.
  • We have lunch all together.
  • Then we reverse roles: my partner starts her work day and I take care of afternoon and dinner. Bedtime routine is shared.
  • If there is still work to do, we do that after dinner.

Our flat has a terrace so our boy can get some active time while the adult who’s not taking care of him is working. The workstation has been set in our bedroom, with an office chair bought years ago that we were about to give away (procrastination works!) and a two-box IKEA Kallax piece that is a genius piece of versatile furniture.

Two toys facing each other.

Looking back at how this has been working for two and a half weeks, I must say it’s not obvious:

  • My work days are shorter than they would be in the office, but my “output” isn’t really affected because I am much more productive in the early hours.
  • Week days are super long, but at the same time they go by very fast. Every week I think Thursday is Tuesday.
  • Our son does not get a chance to socialise with his school friends as much as in pre-school, but he gets the undivided attention of one of us all day long, which also means very little screen time.

One thing that is obvious is that the velocity of our team isn’t really affected by all this. We get the same amount of work done. This is probably due to the fact that we are based in the Barcelona office, and easily two thirds of our meetings are remote anyway with another office (HQ in Berlin, for instance). What I miss though is the social interaction, and even if lots of social hangouts have been set-up in different teams, it doesn’t replace facetime.

My tip to parents:

  • These are exceptional times. It might last for some weeks, or for a few months, but remember that this is not the new normal in the long run and there will be an end to this.

Sarah — Engineering

Sarah, Engineering Manager.

My partner and I have a 3 year old full of energy. It’s been quite hard to keep her busy in the apartment, especially with both of us working full time.

Throughout our day, we have to talk to a lot of people, meaning now a lot of Hangouts sessions, and because these people are in several different parts of the organisation, we didn’t manage to realistically split our work into shifts. Everyday we sync our agendas as much as possible for the current and the next day and try to be mindful of bigger events that require the other to take some time off. Our days are longer to be able to finish all the work, and we definitely focus more on the output.

Not having to hurry in the morning and end of the day to do pickups and drop-offs is really helpful and saves us some time. She talks to us the whole day and it’s amazing to notice her development, her line of thought and the way she expresses herself in different languages. We can spend more time together and feel even more connected.

Disney+ and Netflix have been our best friends through the week and on weekends we try to do more crafty things. We also get to meet at least once a week with the whole kindergarten crew through Zoom. It’s like a party and the kids love to see each other. We’re truly looking forward to a nice in person party though :)

My tips to parents:

  • These are stressful times, be kind to yourself and your family.
  • Don’t let guilt dictate your choices, do what works best for you.
  • Your whole family is possibly having a unique opportunity to connect altogether. Enjoy it!
  • If you’re struggling, know that others are too. Talk to a friend, ask for help. “It takes a village to raise a child”.

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