5 tips to attend office calls when a toddler is around

This is the time when most of us working in IT are asked to work from home. And working from home comes with its own pros and cons. A working woman should cope up with both office work and household work and it is even more difficult for a working mom as she has to respond to the needs of her child as well. And as per my observation, most of them working from their home office are giving in their extra time, efforts and doing more work. Similarly, household work has also increased since the entire family is at home and all the burden is on a woman, whether she is working in an organization or no.

One challenge every working mom face while working from their home office is to handle a child. If the child is old enough to understand things and let the mom work then there is no problem but if it is a toddler then things are really very bad. I understand the difficulty as I am also juggling alone between handling my toddler, finishing the household work and doing the office work. Ufff thinking of the next day is itself is very tiring and never-ending. My husband does help me at times but most of the times he is busy in meetings or other important work. Though he shares some of the work with me, the majority of work is handled by me.

The most difficult part while I am doing my office work is to attend the office calls or meeting. The other participants can hear a lot of background noises from my side which is inevitable. My daughter has to show her presence too during my calls. There would be a lot of screaming in the background, singing nursing rhymes or calling out for me continuously. I remember very well, recently at one instance when I was on a call my daughter was so loud that the person speaking stopped talking for a minute. Unfortunately, I had just spoken and had forgotten to mute the call from my side.

I finally figured out a few ways for moms to minimize the distractions when attending the meetings while your toddler is around.

1. First, get some help from your partner if your partner is not on a call. I know you and your partner will both be busy at work but when you have an important meeting to attend have your husband to look after the child so that you can concentrate on the call. There could be situations where both you and your spouse will have a meeting scheduled at the same time, in such cases, you have to try out different ways to avoid the disturbance.

2. Give some activities to your child. Keep some things like colouring, sticking bits of paper on patterns, jigsaw puzzle, playdough, building blocks etc which your child could do sitting beside you without making any noise. You could start these activities for your child 5 minutes before your call starts so that the child can settle down in the activity.

3. Giving some snacks to your child while you are on call really works in avoiding distraction from your kid. This for sure has always worked for me and still works whenever I want my daughter to stay quiet for some time. Give some healthy snacks like dry fruits, or any fruit, peanuts, puffed rice (my daughter enjoys this). You could occasionally also give biscuits, chocos, chocolate or something that your child enjoys.

4. Play some cartoon on tv so that your child can have some fun watching it. This way your child will also be engaged while you are on call. In a worst-case scenario, you can give a mobile or tab. I know screen time is really bad and not recommended. But I am sure 9 out of 10 kids play on mobile or watch youtube. If your child is among those 9 kids, then keep the screentime during your meeting and then avoid it rest of the time.

5. Mute the call when you are not talking. Of course, we all know this is the very basic thing which we do but at the same time, I even know that many people do not mute the call or forget to mute. I have heard so many noises from behind from other participants in multiple calls and in fact, I myself have forgotten to mute a couple of times. So always ensure to be on mute when you have nothing to speak.

Attending office calls from home when your toddler is around is really very difficult. No matter how hard you try there will be distractions and noise. So it’s always better to give the disclaimer in the meeting about having a child and seek an apology If advance if they get to hear any sounds. At least, this will not leave you embarrassed later on. Also, prioritize the calls that you have in a day. If a call with clients is the most important then reserve the activities or the above-mentioned points to the most important calls. That is because kids get bored very soon and start troubling you again. If they are occupied when you are on an important meeting, you can somehow handle them during the least important ones or regular calls like a daily update calls, or a team meeting which are all internal and within a team. These calls within a team at times are very casual also so you need not worry much about the distractions.

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