Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic that is more or less grinding the world to a halt, thousands of public and private schools across the nation have been forced to close, affecting millions of students around the country. In addition, many states have directed people who are able to work from home to do just that, which presents working parents the challenge of having to work from home alongside their children almost every day. The transition has understandably been difficult for many parents, so to make it a bit easier; here are six tips on how to effectively work from home with your kids:
While you don’t need to give your children an entire lecture about the coronavirus, you should explain it to them (using information from reliable sources) as best you can so your children understand why their freedom is being restricted and to keep them feeling reassured and safe. It is also helpful to make it absolutely clear to coworkers and managers that you also have to balance your children’s needs so there is no confusion or misunderstanding. The more you communicate, the better.
2. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries with your children when working remotely is especially crucial when the children are school-aged. Let your children know when you should not be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. Parents should also set boundaries for themselves, such as not working after a certain time, to avoid overworking and burning themselves out.
3. Create a schedule/ routine
When working remotely, organization is key for both children and parents. Though some children naturally require more flexibility than others, it helps to set a routine for kids that is similar to their school schedule to create a sense of familiarity. Have children awake, showered, dressed and fed the same way they would if they were going to school and then give them activities to keep them occupied during the day. For school-age children, many schools either provide study packs or have online classes. Age-appropriate worksheets and quizzes can be downloaded, which makes it easier to keep school-age children occupied while you work. Parents should also create schedules for themselves, such as waking earlier than their kids, eating breakfast, exercising if possible, making sure children’s daily routines are set, and creating work intervals in between.
4. Take breaks
It is quite tempting to work even harder when working remotely, but overworking leads to burnout, which ironically results in you getting less work done. When creating a schedule, do make sure to include breaks of at least 15 minutes in order to refresh yourself and see to your kids. As mentioned in tip no. 1, make sure to communicate with your coworkers and managers when your breaks are.
5. Alternate with your spouse/partner
If both you and your spouse/partner are working from home, you can take turns working and attending to your children’s schedule in shifts. In addition, if one parent has a work-related task that requires their full attention, such as an important call or a video conference, the other parent can keep the child occupied during that time. For single parents who don’t have that advantage, it is helpful to group your schedule into windows where you can work for a period of time and then attend to your children.
6. Utilize resources
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone one way or another. In these trying times, utilizing resources as best you can is crucial. Working parents should keep in touch with their managers and respective companies to take advantage of any offered assistance and to offer flexibility in their work hours if needed. As for your children’s education, keep in touch with your kids’ teachers and check to see if your kids’ school is offering any resources, such as counseling.
As referenced in tip no. 3, worksheets and quizzes for children can be downloaded, plus there are many cheap and free online learning resources such as: BrainPop, Tynker, Outschool, Beast Academy, Khan Academy, Creative Bug, Discovery Education, and TIME for Kids, which recently released their digital library for free. There are also educational YouTube channels such as National Geographic Kids and the Science Channel. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, but use the resources available and experiment until you find the best solution for you and your children.