Last month, while on the phone with my travel agent, she overheard me saying, “Be quiet, mommy is on the phone.” We shared a good laugh as she is a fellow mom.
During that conversation, she reminded me of two precious things:
- These trying toddler times will not last forever.
- It’s important to set the expectations for etiquette at an early age so your kids will carry them with them through their teenage years.
I think we can all agree that since 2020, the struggle has been real in juggling work and important phone calls while managing a house full of children. I’m currently at the stage of my mothering journey where I feel like every time my kids hear my phone buzz, they think it is prime time to get my attention. Let’s not even talk about the Zoom calls. My clients already know that if they call me on a day of the week when my husband is at work, they are going to get a glimpse of each of my littles at least once during the call.
I’ve had to get creative while adjusting to being a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom. Of course, we know the world isn’t perfect and we cannot stop every melt down while on the phone, but I do have some tips to share. These have helped me teach my kids to not interrupt me while on the phone and stay occupied while I am on scheduled calls:
Setting the expectation
With my four- and two-year-old, I have already begun setting the expectation of what mommy needs them to do while on the phone. These things include the basics since they are young: not climbing on top of me during the call, not screaming my name while trying to get my attention, and not deciding to begin World War III over their toys.
I took the following advice from an episode of the cartoon “Bluey.” In one of the episodes, the kids are having a hard time interrupting their dad while he is talking to others on their way to the park. The dad teaches the kids to not interrupt by speaking, but rather by grabbing and squeezing his hand. I thought that was genius, so we started practicing this with the boys. We are still learning, but it seems to really help! It gets my attention without them screaming at me. The key is to make sure you acknowledge your child right after they squeeze your hand so they know it works and that you have seen them.
Let’s talk about manners. No one wants to raise children with terrible manners, but can we be honest with each other? Kids will be kids, and each moment they use bad manners is a learning experience to learn proper ones. I don’t want my kids to think they can barge in on others’ phone conversations in the adult world, so I’m teaching it is not okay. See an adult on the phone? Need to tell them something? Let’s get their attention quietly, practice patience while they finish the conversation, and then tell them “thank you” for listening to them after your conversation is over.
If you are a work-from-home parent while also raising kids, I feel for you. Zoom calls that last over 30 minutes can get crazy. I stole this “busy box” idea from a breastfeeding mom article last year. I have a basket which I keep on hand filled with toys which my kids don’t always play with (crayons, paper, and Lego blocks). When I know I’m going to be on a planned call that may take a while, I pull out the box right before the scheduled time and let them go at it. It keeps their attention and lets them be creative for enough time for me to hopefully finish up the call.
Praise and rewards
When my kids do what they are supposed to, like squeezing my hand and not interrupting, I make a huge deal about how proud I am of them as soon as I finish the call. If I make it through a Zoom work call with no interruptions, we celebrate afterwards by them getting my full attention as I look through what they have done with their busy box. I’m a big believer that praise is always a bigger motivator for positive action versus punishment for bad action. Don’t get me wrong; if they interrupt, we have a whole conversation regarding what we are supposed to do while I am on the phone. But, I have found praise for the good actions goes farther with them in understanding what they are supposed to do.