Trying to find the perfect balance between involved parent and hard worker isn't easy. This is especially true when it feels like the workplace is demanding more and more of the working parent. So, whether you're an after-work soccer mom trying to juggle bake sales or a concerned father of a couple teenagers, we've got some great ways for staying in touch with kids while at work that won't put you in a bad way with the boss!
Email may have taken a backseat to social networking in the last few years, but you need to remember that it is still a viable–and fairly instant–way of communicating. If your kids have a non-emergency question, such as what's for dinner, what time you'll be home, or where their favorite pair of jeans might be, tell them to shoot you an email at work. Just make sure that you don't spend too long hanging around waiting for any potential emails! Check your email every hour or two, and when you see that there aren't any emails from your kids, go back to work. It's been said that for every interruption we get, we're set back fifteen minutes from work, so those can really add up. Remember to keep your replies to your kids short as well; now is not the time to treat them like a pen-pal! Simply answer the questions that you can, and save the rest for later in the evening.
Most people these days rely on text messaging as a primary form of communication, and it can be a great way of staying in touch with kids while at work. Texting is the perfect way to quickly reply to a child, or have a child check in after getting home from school. Parents often wonder where their children are–especially tweens and teens–and a simple text message letting you know where they are currently can sooth frayed nerves. However, because tweens and teens tend to abuse text messaging, they could easily get you in trouble at work as well. Tell your children in what circumstances they should text message, such as quick questions that don't need much detail to answer, when they get off the bus and into the house, or asking for permission before they head out with friends. Just remember–you shouldn't abuse text messages either, as this is rapidly becoming a problem in the workplace!
You obviously can't be taking a ton of personal calls at work, but it should be perfectly fine if you step out for a few moments to check in with your kids, especially if they're home alone. Just remember to keep the conversation short, or check in during your break if it coincides with your children being at home by themselves. As always, encourage your children not to hesitate to call you at work if there is an emergency at home! Just make sure that they realize that not being able to find the TV remote or anything to eat in the fridge don't quite classify as emergencies!
RFID Tags & Readers
More and more parents are turning to a high-tech solution for monitoring their children. One of the new popular items for keeping an eye on children away from home are RFID readers. While these are a slightly pricey option, running about $75-$150 dollars for a start-up home kit, many parents believe they are worth the peace of mind. How do they work? A simple plastic tag or sticker is attached to a keyring which is clipped onto a child's set of house keys or backpack. When your child gets home, he waves the tag over an RFID reader, which can do one of many things to let you know that he is home. Unlike a text message, an RFID cannot be faked, as a child must touch the tag directly to the reader. It can send you an email that you can check at your leisure, and if you set up a private twitter account, it can even tweet–that is, update the Twitter account–that your child is home safe and sound. Additional RFID tags can be purchased, meaning that you can have one tag per child, which is especially useful if you have children who get back at different times of the day. Not to mention, many kids feel this is a less invasive way compared to other options parents have looked at, such as webcams, neighbors checking in, or even babysitters.
- Children and Teens First. ChatFirst.com.au – Keeping in Touch with Your Children at http://www.chatfirst.com.au/parents/03_6_keepintouch.php