My Children Love Meeting ‘Daddy’s Friends’ Online

UNICEF staff shares WFH learning experience

Songporn Leelakitichok
A father is holding his child in his arms in front of a Dare to Dream event backdrop
UNICEF Thailand

11 May 2020

Amidst the spread of COVID-19, many organizations and companies have rolled out work-from-home (WFH) policies.   For working parents, working from home may seem to be challenging as it might be difficult to stay focused on work with children at home. 

As a father of 3 young children, Tomoo Okubo, UNICEF Social Policy Specialist, often struggles to find quiet time working on policy proposals to help vulnerable children and families in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“My children usually love to play in the neighbourhood and at their kindergartens with their friends, teachers and neighbours,” he told us.  “However, this has been impossible due to COVID-19 and they spend most of their time at home, where I am also working.” 

“Most of my days are filled with online meetings and calls with colleagues and partners,” he continued.  “But my kids often just walk in and sometimes try to appear on the screen or speak up through the meetings.”

Photos showing how a father is working from home while his children is around
UNICEF Thailand

At first, Tomoo admits that he found it inappropriate but when he tried to keep his children quiet in one of the meetings, he was surprised to hear colleagues say: “Tomoo, it’s okay, they are just kids!  We are happy to see them play and we can take a break if they’d like to speak to us.  Please let them also enjoy – they are stressed and curious too!”

“Since then I have been welcoming my children to join any calls and they seem happy to meet ‘daddy’s friends’ online,” he said. 

Now he views the situation as an opportunity for his children to learn more about their parents’ work and spend time together while working.  Alyssa (6), Kensei (3), and Lena (1) also meet their friends via online apps, do some online learning, and exercise with their parents.

Although the temporary new working-from-home environment seems to be a bit challenging, everyone can learn and take opportunities from the situation.  It may take time to get everybody adjusted but that is only natural.  While his children are learning about their parents’ work, Tomoo has learned the bright side of the situation too.

 

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