Home office and childcare: How to have it all (at 80%) using your skills

As working parents, you cannot have 100%

Rediscovering and repurposing skills for childcare

Advantages of repurposing your skills for childcare

  • Uniqueness. I believe a reason why Clara spends much more time colouring my drawings rather than the printed colouring papers is the realization that whatever I draw, it exists only once, and only for her. She recognizes the effort that is put into a single picture and treats it with equal care. I see the difference when she gets a pile of printed colouring images and starts to colour something, then gets bored of it, throws the paper aside and starts on another. Whenever we clean up her desk and throw away old pictures, she insists on keeping the ones I draw for her.
  • Save time. This might be a little counterintuitive at first: After all, a printer is much faster than my hands could ever be. But looking at my point above, your children will spend more time with individual drawings and crafts than they would with downloaded or purchased activities. More time for you and your home office!
  • Learning effect. When Clara wonders how to draw something, she comes to me and asks me to show her. Sometimes, she looks at her surroundings and tries to sketch what she sees because she has seen me doing it. You are your children’s biggest influence and they learn so much from you when they are given enough exposure of your skills.
  • Emotional bonding. This should be obvious, but anything you do for your child is caring for your child and showing your love, even if it’s just a few minutes every time. Your children see the effort you put into something. They are also more deeply involved themselves, with the ability to decide certain details and a larger impact on the end result of your activity. You will find yourself more strongly connected and alert, as you will be putting yourself into it instead of half-heartedly helping with puzzles for the 100th time. (Idea: Create your own puzzles!)
  • Reconnect to yourself. Somewhere between being a child and growing up into a busy adult, part of you gets lost or changes. This happens naturally as you, your skills and your way of thinking evolve over time and no reason to be sad. Yet I doubt any of us live without certain regrets. We often have to sacrifice or at least greatly reduce one thing to have another. And this may be your chance to bring together your interests and your children, in a setting that requires you to focus on work and neglect both.

Ways to put your own skills into good use

  • Give your children tasks. Regardless of the activity, you need to have a common goal, something that feels like a big success when achieved. If you’re good at singing or playing an instrument, find a suitable song and ask your children to learn its melody or, if older, the lyrics. If you’re good at dancing, create a choreography of your own, film yourself and ask your children to learn it. You can then perform together.
  • Think outside of the box. You don’t think you are creative? That’s no problem, virtually all skills are useful. You might be a good runner and wondering how that could be useful at home. Do you track your steps? Show them to your children. Give them something to track with (a smartphone, carefully tucked into a children’s backpack, does the trick) and see if they can beat your score. At home! Or even better: Do it together and get fit while you’re at it.
  • Involve your children in your profession. No, I don’t mean to have them jump into your camera and interrupt your meetings. If you are, for example, a coder whose day is filled with nothing else, you can use what you have to create activities for your kids. Take a page of code and ask them how often they can find a certain letter, number, or snippet. If the count is correct, they get points. It would be even better if you showed them what a piece of code actually does, depending on your chosen field. Children are always eager to learn, they just need the right method.

Life is never at 100%, but it can be perfect at 80%

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