It is such a nice feeling to finish work, shut your laptop, and go and meet your family on the local promenade and hear all about the trampoline park or swimming pool they visited earlier. It takes some effort, working remotely while traveling with your family is all about good planning and taking turns with the childcare, or “tag-teaming” as my partner I call it.
My partner prefers to work in the evening, so I’ll usually take over after I put in a few hours in the morning and I often find that sometimes the simplest activities can lead to being an entertainment opportunity for your child. Here in Spain, the Spanish love a walk or “paseo” in the evening time, as the heat of the day cools off. For our daughter, this is an opportunity to wander especially at sunset, finding other children, families, and pets on the streets, sometimes using her scooter to scoot along.
We’ve made many happy memories during these evening walks and its quickly become one of our favorite family habits in Spain. In the end, finding new and creative ways to keep the kids engaged on your remote work vacation not only keeps them busy, but also brings everyone closer together.
Decide What Type of Activity is Important
As parents, we will often have our own thoughts on what matters, but sometimes we forget that our children may also have strong opinions and preferences. Taking time to discuss, agree and write down these interests is a great start. Our daughter, as an only child, so far, at eight years old is very social, so in general she seems to like activities involving interaction with other children and movements. That’s why when we want to engage with her, we often choose to do this with a walk to the nearest playground, green space or pick a new place to explore.
Before you plan your work vacation, spend some time thinking about what activities matter to you and your children. Take some time to talk to your children about the upcoming trip, describe the destination and some of the attractions, and pay attention to what catches their interests. Write a list down of these shared interests. You may even find a shared love of something that can bring you closer together, like seeking out art workshops and galleries with events you can join in on.
Accept That Touristy Things Can Be Fun Too
My daughter and I share a guilty pleasure—hop-on/hop-off busses. I know its cheesy, but for both of us it is a learning experience and she enjoys having the audio guide introduce her to the location. On a recent trip to Portugal, we explored the palace-filled city of Sintra on two different routes that took us to the coast and through all the historic sights. I thought the day would be a blur to her, but the next day she recited all of the details and facts we learned together to her father—almost verbatim.
Plan Projects That Suit Your Child's Age and Interests
When both of us need to work, keeping our daughter engaged just takes more preparation and organization. She loves to create things and is interested in arts and crafts. We prepare for busy times by having a range of projects planned that she can complete easily. This can be as simple as stringing together bead bracelets or coloring in mandalas. We like to use items that we can travel with easily, like sticker books, as well so we always have a back-up.
To help her stay focused, we find it’s helpful to suggest simple goals to go along with the project. For example, we’ll ask her to make three bracelets for her friends or design a postcard to send specifically to her grandmother.
Get Your Child Involved in Household Chores
Snack time can be fun and entertainment time too. Once when I had suggested my daughter prepare some light snacks for us both, she presented me with a creatively designed plate. It shows you how being dynamic with your thinking can result in your child being very creative, entertained and even providing you with some well needed nourishment!
We have progressed on to having a simple reward chart for doing household chores on our fridge. Our daughter “earns” either pocket money or treats if she completes the household chores on the list, like emptying the dishwasher, folding and putting away clothes, watering plants etc. Again, this chores list can be a great resource to suggest to your child, when you need to occupy them whilst you work.
Rowena Hennigan is Nurall's Startup Advisor and a Remote Work Consultant and University Lecturer, based in Zaragoza in Spain.
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