Navigating Working from Home & Schooling Children
Schools across the country have shut down due to COVID-19. Here in Colorado, most school districts have gone online. This forces both parents and children to work from home and coexist while still getting work done. Working from home with children at home can be challenging.
Figuring out how to structure your day and your child’s day is a hard task. As is forming a separation between parenting and working when both are happening simultaneously. In such an unprecedented situation, it’s no surprise that many employed parents are having a hard time adjusting.
While there is no clear road map or answer to this predicament, it is possible to balance working from home with raising (and schooling) children. Some advice on initial steps to take to navigate this process is outlined below.
Stick to Your Usual Routine
While it’s tempting to both you and your children to remain in your pajamas all day, it’s not a good habit to form. In a time when everything seems to be changing, it’s important to keep a routine. Whatever you and your children did in the morning before the pandemic, you should continue to do now that you’re both at home full-time.
Wake up on time for school/work. Make a pot of coffee. Eat breakfast together. Get dressed as if you’re going out somewhere. Even consider taking your children for a walk in the morning to mimic the travel of going to school to further set them in their normal routine.
This isn’t just about keeping up your children’s school routine, though. It’s also about keeping up your work routine. Do everything you normally would before work, and once the work-day has begun, keep to your regular schedule. If you answer emails first thing in the morning, continue to do that.
Depending on your children’s age, you can either set them up with a schedule and expect them to follow it themselves, or guide them through it. If they’re younger and you have to guide them through their work, do it in a manner that isn’t too distracting from your work. Set hour increments with tasks for both of you to accomplish. After the hour passes, take a five-minute break and dive into the next part of your day.
Utilize Virtual Tools & Help
You don’t have to go through the process of schooling your children by yourself, even if it may feel that way. Connect with neighbors and parents of your children’s friends to find out how they’re making this situation work. Creating a Slack channel or another form of communication with these people can help create a sense of community and give you a place to go for resources.
There are plenty of websites out there that have begun catering to children and offering free online learning platforms. Use these to guide you in this process. Whether that means setting your child up to watch education videos or tutorials or giving them “break” time to play an educational game.
Scheduling virtual tutoring sessions for your children is another good resource. Connect with local high-school or college students who may be finding themselves with ample free time. Even an hour of virtual tutoring a day can take some pressure off of you and give your child alternate supervision and teaching during the day.
Throw Out Screen Time Rules
While it’s commonly said that children’s screen time should be limited, especially young children, during a pandemic these rules should be thrown out. To keep everyone’s sanity while working at home with children at home, allowing your children more screen time may be necessary.
For young children, it’s still best to limit recreational screen time. Rather than demolish limits altogether, create new ones. For young children, three hours of recreational screen time a day could be a good limit to set. Any limits you do create, however, should be for recreational screen time only. They should not include mandatory screen time required for learning.
Breathe – You’ll Find a Balance
In such a hectic time, it’s understandable to be worried about everything. Having to balance work and raising/schooling children simultaneously only adds to the stress. But if you follow these simple tips and work with your family to determine what methods and routines work best for all of you, you’ll be able to navigate this situation and find a solution that works for everyone.
- Peterson, Andrea. “The Kids Are Home. You Need to Work. What Do You Do?” The Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2020.
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