The New Breed Of Working Parents: Quantity Vs. Quality

by | March 18, 2015

In case you missed it, last week was our introduction to The New Breed of Working Parents: Real Parents, Virtually Working. We’ve all heard that it takes a special kind of personality to successfully work from home, but it takes an even more unique skill set to do so while parenting.

Welcome to “The New Breed of Working Parents”, a new content series with exclusive tips for parents who work virtually. Between the rising costs of childcare and needing two incomes to support a family, more parents are exploring working remotely as their new primary income source.

Working virtually seems like the perfect solution, yet when you are unequipped your days can quickly unravel into missed calls and tantruming toddlers… but balance exists!

This week, I’m going to start talking about one of the concepts my fellow work-at-home parents and I make use of to preserve our sanity and our productivity: quantity vs. quality.

I know that when I left my 9-5 cubicle position to work from home, I had plenty of fantasies about crafting with the kids all day and cooking five course meals and never falling behind on laundry while still getting a paycheck. But rather quickly I realized that working from home takes you away from those things just as much as working in an office does. So, in that regard, some of these tips can be useful for parents working in an office too!

Key Takeaway: The premise remains the same – most kids don’t like to share your attention, so a smaller amount of dedicated attention will usually go a lot further than longer but more distracted attention.

Quality Versus Quantity Q & A’s

  • Q: What are some “quality” type activities I can try?
    • Indoor sandboxes
      • Dry oatmeal in a shallow plastic bin is a great sensory activity that is safe even for very young sitters. I add some measuring cups and occasionally some toys.
        • Similarly, as they get older and are less inclined to eat things, rice grains or dried beans can be a welcome/exciting change.
        • Older kids can use kinetic sand for a mess-free sandcastle building session – find at your local craft store.
    • Crafts of any type.
      • Pro tip: lay out a disposable plastic sheet or newspaper, so when you’re done, you just throw it all in the garbage and move on.
    • Puzzles. Sometimes you can get the older ones really involved, and they’ll keep working beside you while you switch gears to a project.
    • Going for a quick walk and finding things to collect and bring home.
    • Involve your kids in activities you would otherwise do independently.
      • Make a shopping list with pictures instead of words so little ones can help you while grocery shopping. It becomes a scavenger hunt instead of a chore!
      • I trust my six year old to cut up tofu for stir fry, break the ends off beans for cooking, and help me with any baking I do.
  • Q: What if I use my fifteen minute breaks to prep for dinner?
    • A: Try preparing crock-pot meals to toss in first thing in the morning, so you can give your kids the majority of your break times throughout the day.
  • Q: What if my kid is just no good at self-entertaining?
    • A: Break up the day into chunks according to their most active hours (check out next week’s Scheduling post for more details!) so you can be available when they need you most, and don’t feel bad about a 30min. show or the occasional movie!