One of the things I started doing is putting a sign behind me every day that people can see when I’m video-conferencing. I’ve done it since day three of work from home (I’ve kept all but the first four or five signs as a reflection on the weeks). It’s been my little way of bringing some freshness and personal anecdotes to each day.
It’s proven to be a really good way to engage with people. There was one sign about “Tiger King.” Last week, I had one that said, “All I want is Panda Express” because I love Panda Express and that’s what I really miss. Over the weekend, my wife and I drove to Panda Express in Dedham [Mass.], ordered takeout, and brought it home. My sign yesterday was, “Got me some Panda Express.” It’s a pretty fun thing. People have started asking me what my sign says if they miss it on any given day.
My wife and I have 6- and 7-year-old daughters and twin boys who are 4, so we have to sort out the kids every day while working from home. We’re part of an au pair program – we have a young woman with us from Austria – so we all split it up. I take the kids for breakfast and lunch, my wife does dinner, and our au pair takes them from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.
We’ve tried to put a schedule together that involves recess and academic time and reading time, but we’ve also made a whole bunch of concessions with things we never would have done previously. For example, the kids never used to get to watch TV in the mornings during the week, but we don’t want them to kill each other, so we made that pretty big concession. We’re really lucky to have four kids during this time – all close in age – because they keep themselves entertained. I imagine this would be much harder for an only child or a family of four where the kids are years apart in age.