12 tips to conference calling with young children in the house
Working from home can present many challenges for the busy parents of young children. Gone are the days of a dedicated conference room where you could video or voice call free from disturbances. Conference calling from a noisy household is an art and a well-trodden path by many parents who will have plenty of their own horror stories to tell. We share with you some of the best tips and tricks to survive this most stressful of office moments when remote working.
- It is a good policy to implement a small home office or designated workspace so that even small children begin to understand the concept of the split between mummy at home and mummy working. If you squash work in around the children without any parameters, it is almost impossible to introduce the concept of a silent video or voice call
- Create an activity or quiet corner for your children that mirrors your workspace. Young children love to copy their parents. Set up a table and chair with plenty of occupation and distractions. Handy Click and Store fold down boxes are great ideas for a small home office and will keep their toys just as organised as your office equipment. Tough and hard-wearing, their on-trend design and vibrant colours look great in any interior and they fold down for easy storage when you don’t need them
- If you have a conference call booked then make sure you spend time with your children beforehand. They are far more likely to tolerate your absence or occupation on a conference call if they feel they have had some attention first
- If the children are old enough, explain to them what is going to happen and that they will need to be quiet
- Set up some distraction or occupation such as their favourite film or TV show or colouring and drawing. Try and choose an activity which is a treat and a rarity so they remain absorbed but don’t opt for anything which could get messy or noisy or cause competition or arguments between siblings
- Introduce the concept of silence as a game and promise a reward to the child who stays quiet for the longest period. However, this can sometimes backfire with older children harassing younger children in order to get them to break their vow of silence first
- Promise the children a special treat when you have finished the call
- If you are video conferencing in a small space, remember you can blur the background on facilities like Skype. Cisco Webex will also let you blur the background or substitute a virtual background so when the little blighters start crayoning on the walls, they are out of shot – there may, of course, be other things you want to blur too like your laundry or washing up! Zoom offers video and audio conferencing across different media and is easy to move from room to room which might prove vital
- If you are on a conference call service and are just listening then you can mute yourself so that background noise is blanked out or if you need to talk to the children
- Don’t assume younger children are noisier than older ones, the reverse is often true
- Don’t put an infant down for a nap hoping they will sleep through unless they are regular sleepers at this time and you can set your watch by them
- Remember that often overlooked sanctuary of a mobile office sitting outside your house. Your car is secure, warm and reasonably soundproof whilst you join an audio conference
Home organisation both in terms of physical workspace and schedule is crucial to surviving remote working with children living in the house. The other watchword is flexibility because small children are not just going to conform to your work programme. If you do have an unscheduled disruption to your video or voice call then remember, you are probably not the only one in the virtual room who is juggling work and children.