Tips for Zoom Meetings with Kids
Kids are great. They really (read: mostly) are.
If you currently have them terrorizing your home and your work life, you can count yourself lucky. But, we promise, you can do even more than that. To save your work life and your kid from being scolded for the millionth time read on.
No, we won’t and will never tell you how to be a parent. (That’s what in-laws are for.) But for those times in your life — very specifically, those virtual meetings you have throughout the day — we are here for you.
We are all in the process of navigating a new reality. Many of us are working from home now, which means we are working right alongside our (mostly) lovely, can’t-live-without-them-will-never-starve-them children, who are out of school due to the pandemic. While there are definitely benefits to spending more time at home with your kids (if we keep saying it, it will be true someday), there are also difficulties. One that many parents are still trying to figure out — how to successfully take a Zoom call without being Zoom-bombed by their kids.
When the pandemic began, and meetings were being switched from in-person to online, we collectively accepted that we may see some animals, children, or in some cases, an unpleasant view of someone in the household changing in the background. All those things are perfectly normal and just part of the learning curve of navigating this post-pandemic world. That being said, anyone who has ever cared for a child knows how difficult of a feat balancing childcare and work responsibilities are. It’s tricky, but not impossible.
Create a Schedule
The best way to maintain structure is having a set schedule. When you don’t have anywhere to be at a certain time, it can be easy to get into “vacation-mode.” Instead, sit down with your child and come up with a game plan for each day (or have each day scheduled weekly). It’s important to write it out (or draw it out for those who can’t read) and mount it somewhere it can be looked at and referred to constantly. Get as specific as possible. Keep in mind, it doesn’t need to follow the same schedule as a school day, being they’re not at school. For example, you could give them an hour to watch television (preferably educational, depending on your child(ren)’s age there are great shows on PBS Kids and Disney+) during the same time that you hop on your conference call.
No matter how chaotic they can be and act at times, science says children crave schedules.
Also, what about naps? For parents of younger children who aren’t capable of understanding a schedule diagram, naps are the best way to get a few hours of work in. (For parents of older children, REMEMBER NAPS?!?) To ensure that a child is napping during times you’re usually expected to be on camera, try moving their sleep schedule so there is a better chance of sleep occuring during the same time period.
Make time for your kids
Many parents may make the mistake of not planning time for their kids, just because they are all under the same roof together. When children are uncertain of the next time their parents will be accessible, it increases the amount of interruptions one might experience in the middle of an important meeting. Make sure to set aside a specific time during your work day where they will know you’ll be available to them, such as preparing lunch together or taking a walk between meetings, having a dance party to “Hamilton” or listening to that new Taylor Swift album.
Include Your Kids
We are 8 (8!??!) months into this pandemic. And most everyone understands this “new normal” and the challenges working parents face in this work-from-home environment. So don’t ignore your kids’ needs and wants to be with you. Include them in your meetings. Sit them on your lap and let them enjoy seeing other people or themselves on video. Turn off your camera, if allowed. And say your apologies for the situation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when others on the call tell you they understand and don’t mind the new meeting’s addition. In this new pandemic world, we’re all giving each other grace. You should give yourself some, too.
Block out the Noise
When things are getting out of control, the baby is crying, or the older kids decide the best time to have a screaming match is while you’re in the middle of a call or presenting those crucial quarterly TPS reports, wireless headsets with easily accessible mute buttons are the way to go. These can be especially useful during Zoom calls taken on your smartphone, that way, if one room is especially loud, you have the power to go to a different area of the house. Another option is to have a loud fan in the room which also helps to drown out the screams of rowdy children.
At the end of the day, you probably won’t get everything done that you would have if you were in the office, but the good news is, almost everyone you work with is going to be facing their own obstacles. The biggest key to working from home with kids, is being honest with your employer about your situation and being realistic about how much work you are able to accomplish.
And if you are in need of a break from home or have a super important meeting that absolutely needs to be distraction free, CO+HOOTS can help you with our super fast and reliable internet in our conference rooms! If you need a place to go more than once a week, our flexible memberships could be a good solution. On a team? Check out our new flexible work plans for teams here.
Happy Zooming and remember to count yourself lucky.