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Working from Home and Blue Popsicles

By Alon Barda

I am often asked how many children I have and I tend to respond jokingly (sort of) that I have 34 kids. In actual fact, that number is four with the ages being 2, 5, 7 and 9. While I used to joke I was not sure, I am very certain these days as the kids are at home, always around, lurking, and just waiting for a time to disrupt.

In the past month alone, I have had a child attempt to disrupt a cross-examination to ask for a popsicle (to be clear, not just any colour, this five year old was specific that it had to be blue and of course there were no blue colours remaining such that the exchange did not end well).

I have also had another child attempt to interrupt a pre-trial on account of an urgent need to locate a charger for his iPad that was at, for him, a worryingly low 7% (this despite being charged overnight and somehow used so much in a few hours that the battery almost went). This was very urgent as this particular child needed my credit card to buy more of some currency in the game that would allow some new object to be purchased (for the eighth time in a week). He was also hungry. They are all always hungry.

I love my kids, don’t get me wrong. But there is something about having them home during working hours that certainly makes things difficult. Having said that, I have devised some ground rules for when we are at home, however long this continues. Feel free to use them.

For starters, my wife and I have created large charts that we give to each child. If they attend class and put on their clothes, they get a star (our expectations are low). At the end of week there are prizes distributed to those with the most stars. It’s a simple concept but very effective.

In terms of my work, there is a red sign outside the door when I cannot have any interruptions, not even a little knock on the door. This means no entering and no knocking under any circumstances, including, of course, for a blue popsicle.

I have also made best efforts to spend some time during the day during breaks or at lunch to do some activities with them so that the kids have a structured time they know dad is available.

Most importantly, though, I have found it very helpful to take some time to unwind at the end of a long day of helping kids with home schooling and working. Some exercise is helpful or even driving out for a coffee. Some time outside of the house for a breather is a nice recharge.

These are obviously difficult times but I am thankful that I have been able to continue working and at a pretty good capacity all things considered. I just need to learn to buy more blue popsicles.