How to overcome challenge of working at-home with house full of kids

ByRandall Yip KGO logo
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
How to be productive working at-home with kids
The contributing editor of and longtime father, Geoffrey James, offers some tips for those working from home with children in the house.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Hundreds of thousands of workers forced to stay home are working outside the office -- and inside of their homes -- for the first time. Here are some tips from a long time dad and veteran of telecommuting.

Geoffrey James works for, the digital arm of the business magazine. The contributing editor has been doing it from the comfort of his home since 1996.

"The main danger of working at home in a situation like this, is that you'll never want to go back," said James.

Mare Manangan doesn't quite agree with him, at least not yet. The Marin teacher is preparing a remote lesson plan for her second graders since the coronavirus forced her school to shut down.

"It's a steep learning curve. It's just not the way I normally teach," said Mare.

On this day, she stopped what she was doing to help her daughter Kalan work through a printer issue.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Thousands of Silicon Valley employees work from home amid COVID-19 fears

Downstairs, her son Oliver is flat on his stomach doing his homework on his bed.

Paul Manangan, father, is outside Oliver's bedroom hoping for some peace and quiet.

"It's completely intrusive. I have conference calls all the time and I'm always asking them to be quiet," Paul said.

Both Paul and Mare admit it's difficult to know when to end the day.

At work, it's part of the culture to take a lunch and go home at a certain time. When you're already at home, it's difficult to stop working.

"So that's been hard, this really could be a 24/7 job," said Mare.

These are all issues James outlines in an article he just wrote, "A Beginner's Guide to Working From Home Without Driving Yourself and Your Family Crazy."

"It's important to be able to shut off the work and say, now I'm not working. But equally you have to be sure when you're working, you don't treat it and the people around you don't treat it, as if you're available at home," he said.

It's easier when the kids are older.

For younger kids, he says to learn to keep them occupied. For example, go to the Dollar Store and find little toys that will keep the younger ones busy. Or, make use of educational programming.

"Thank God for TV. Thank God for Thomas the Tank Engine," James said.

One thing both parents and kids agree: you'll get more done at home.

"I get stuff done faster because there are less distractions," Kalan said.

James hopes that when the pandemic is over, more employers will allow working at home.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.