Working From Home with Kids Around
You are working from home today. You sit poised at your personal workstation—your laptop, notebook, and pencils spread neatly in front of you. A moment later, you see the “connecting…” signal flash across your Zoom screen. Your meeting starts. This is a highly important meeting: you will be presenting your project on Automated Testing in front of the CEO and the entire Board of Directors. With a deep breath, you turn your video on and unmute the mic, and begin to address the vast audience.
At that very moment, your three-year-old daughter, Sasha, dashes in your room, laughing hysterically. She is followed by your five-year-old son, Danny, who is running after her, teasing her with a feather. Trailing behind this hyperactive duo is your Siamese cat, Ginger, meowing loudly.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
Even if you haven’t experienced a work-from home situation with kids that is this extreme (and we hope for your sake that you haven’t), we are assuming that you can resonate with the above to at least a certain extent.
As a software tester or developer, you simply cannot afford to be distracted.
Hence, we are here to help you by giving you tips on how to produce high quality work from home, even in the presence of kids around.
1. Talk to your kids
We understand that it can be difficult to explain your work situation to young children, as they may be too small to comprehend it. That’s fine. However, you can break it down gently to them. Try explaining that you’ll need some privacy for these specific periods of time throughout the day, as you have to do some important work. If your children are school-going, you can draw an analogy between school and your work—perhaps by comparing your meeting to a dictation test. This will help your kids to understand the importance of your work (we all know what a big deal dictations are to kids anyway…we’ve been there).
2. Keep your kids busy at that time
To minimize the chances of your kids barging into your room at the very moment the code is finally coming together or you’re leading a big meeting, assign them something to do at that time. You can give them some artwork to do, play a board game, engage in some outdoor activities, and so on. Perhaps tell them that you’d like for them to keep the results as a surprise for you (for e.g. the outcome of an art project), so they are not tempted to interrupt you in the middle of your work to update you on their progress.
3. Play dates with friends
You probably have other friends and acquaintances working from home as well, whether it’s for only that day or for a prolonged period of time. If they have kids, you can arrange play dates for your kids and theirs, during your office hours. A babysitter or another family member can take them to the park, or maybe to grab a Happy Meal at McDonald’s! These play dates can easily be arranged at home too (what’s better than being cooped up on the couch watching Looney Tunes on TV, with some cheese sticks and orange juice?).
4. Give your team a heads-up
Telling your team that you have kids around, before something unexpected takes place, is a good idea. This way, even if you disappear off the screen for a few seconds (someone has to attend to the loud thud in the kitchen that’s followed by a sheepish shriek) or are tugged away from your work station (that toy needs to found as soon as possible!), at least your team members will be aware of the circumstances at your home.
5. Schedule wisely
If you are at the liberty of deciding your own work slots, it would make most sense to schedule the most important tasks during the time when your kids are the busiest, sleeping, or have something planned. This will decrease your chances of being interrupted by them, and will also relieve you of the burden of worrying that any of your kids can barge during that crucial time.
6. Offer incentives
Kids love ice-cream (who doesn’t?), being taken out for a drive, or munching on some warm chocolate chip cookies. How about you tell them that if they let you work in peace for that day, you’ll take them out for some delicious soft-serve? Or take them to the local pond to feed the ducks that weekend? This way, every time little Sammy is about to dash in through your door in the middle of your work, the thought of that much-awaited chocolate dipped cone may hold him back. Extra whipped cream and hot fudge sauce can be promised on days when you absolutely cannot be disturbed!
7. Use Test Management Tools
Amidst all the disruptions at home, it is easy to lose track of work. This calls for the need to have a platform where you can organize your tasks and documents. This way, if you lose thread on something, you can easily pick it from where you left. Doing this is a lot easier to do on a test management tool than plunging through loads of Excel sheets. A comprehensive testing tool that you can use for this purpose is Kualitee.
We advise you to try the above tips, to have a more productive day working from home. Of course, the entire process requires a lot of patience, and sometimes you just have to give in. That’s perfectly alright, so don’t fret. Keep your cool, and do your best to strike the right balance between working from home and giving your kids enough time.
Ray is a Marketing Consultant at Software Development Lead. He loves to write tech-related news, articles, specifically quality assurance and information security. Apart from his techie appearance, he enjoys soccer, reading mysteries, and spending long hours working over at the New York office.