If you now find yourself working from home while managing your family, you aren’t alone. For nearly two weeks now, parents around the world are dealing with the stress, anxiety, and frustration that can come from trying to manage your workload and your kids—often all in the same space.
Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) March 16, 2020
Attempting to juggle multiple children across multiple grade-levels can feel like outright punishment all while making you appreciate teachers that much more. With warmer weather on the horizon, it will likely start becoming an even greater challenge to calm wiggles and desires to get outside.
Take a deep breath and keep reading for tips to A) help you hold onto your sanity B) get work done and C) help your kiddos learn and have time for some fun!
Tip #1: Be Kind to Yourself
Go easy on yourself. You are taking on two full time jobs (if not more!) and both jobs have the same exact working hours. Start by acknowledging that you are being tasked with a really heavy responsibility and allow room for error and learning from those errors.
This morning I have a 9am
– standup for work
– zoom circle time for 4 yo
– google meeting for 1st grader
All. At. The. Same. Time.
Good morning to only those people having empathy for working parents right now. This is really difficult.
— Amanda Goetz (@AmandaMGoetz) March 23, 2020
Tip #2: Create a Schedule
Plan out your day and your children’s day the night before and create a schedule. Some people may be able to plan for a few days at a time but I find that day-by-day planning works best and allows room to squeeze in things that have to be pushed out.
In this schedule, be sure to allocate genuine family time (ie, no computers, no email, no phones!). This may be an early breakfast before that 9am standup, a lunch in the middle of the day, or a family walk or exercise/yoga session in the evening. Don’t underestimate your kid’s need for structure. Create a schedule, post it up where everyone can see it and even go over it together as a family to help keep everyone accountable.
If your kids are older, have an honest conversation with them about your schedule and when you will and will not be available. Also, this is the perfect time to have older siblings take on the responsibility of helping with younger siblings! Tie it in with bonus TV time, a special dessert, or another privilege just for them to make it even more rewarding!
Tip #3: Take Frequent Breaks
Let’s face it—your new “coworkers” don’t have the same attention span as you and will need activities throughout the day to keep them engaged, active, and busy (so that you can get some work done!). The best part of their need for breaks is that it provides you with opportunities to take a break as well! We all know how easy it is to get lost in your work while working from home and bury yourself in your own tasks for hours before realizing that it’s time for a bio break or snack.
Break away from it all and take mini-breaks throughout the day to go on a walk, play catch with your kids, and make a fun snack together. You will appreciate the fresh air and change in pace and scenery while giving your kids an excuse to get off the couch!
Also, give yourself some grace. An increase in screen time is expected and may actually help kids relieve stress. Find educational content to tune into, provide activities that involve YouTube videos, go on a virtual tour of a museum or aquarium, or find activities that they can do as a team over the phone with friends.
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We are living in unprecedented times with parents around the world coping with the effects of a global pandemic. With schools and most businesses closed, it is now imperative for many parents to take on the role of employee and educator. While you may feel alone, it’s important to realize that we are all in this together and your new “coworker” can also be your most forgiving. Take things one day at a time and use the above tips to keep yourself grounded. You got this!
We hope these tips help parents in our community navigate these challenging new experiences and find some time for themselves. Check out this parent perspective for some ideas on how to support your child’s learning at home. You can also find more resources in the “Resources for parents” section in our Distance Learning Toolkit.