If you, like many parents are struggling to work from home during this pandemic, you are not alone. Spare offices, dining room tables and family room couches have been transformed into school and work spaces. You have probably also figured out there there is a learning curve to being effective especially if you’re lacking inspiration.
Depending on where you are, your child(ren) could only be in school for a 1-3 days per week, completely remote or in school everyday. Whatever the makeup of your current childcare and school situation, working from home with kids, in a pandemic is hard.
We have opted to homeschool our 2nd grader and pre-schooler. It has been a roller coaster ride but we are finding a stride. Some days go great and others I want to hit the reset button after the first 10 minutes. What can I and others recommend at this point? Here are a few tips.
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- Stay flexible. There is no one trick that will always work all the time for all families, and there will be times nothing seems to work at all! Try out a few different systems to find what works best for you. Even when you do find a working system, remember that it won’t be ideal all the time, and some days you will need to try another approach. Staying flexible can help keep your sanity.
- Find a quiet corner. If you’re new to working from home, you might have to manage without a proper working space. Do your best to create a distraction free work space. Preferably, a space with a door to keep out noise and “little helpers”. Noise-canceling headphones can be useful too. Not everyone has an extra space that they can convert into an office. Do your best to speak to your children and explain that your workspace is not a place for play. Depending on their ages, that may or may not stick, but you can work towards them gaining an understanding that mom or dad is “working” when they are in that space.
- Use distractions. Find things to keep your children distracted while you’re working. Try different and perhaps new toys, books, or games exciting enough to capture their attention for longer. Make them feel like they’re working with you by downloading some teaching resources and setting them up at a desk. Click here for ideas. There are also tons of learning apps available for phones, tablets and computers that are fun and educational. I am also not above using the television as a distraction along with the perfectly timed snack of their choice.
- Prioritize. It will be hard at times, no matter how together you are. You will be interrupted, so it’s important to schedule your work to get the most done. Prioritize the things that are the most essential. To make the most of your time, make a list each day of the main tasks that you need to get done, so you can concentrate on those. If your children still take naps, use those times to complete the tasks the require the most attention or to make phone or Zoom calls. There are days where you may need to take on some projects before everyone else is awake, or after bedtime.
- Teamwork. Everyone may not have a partner to lend a hand, but if you do, you have to work as a team. Work your schedules around each other the best you can so one person can have at least some uninterrupted time. If you don’t have a spouse or significant other, check with grandparents, other relatives or even other working from home friends where you can trade help. Even an hour of free time to work can be a difference maker.
- Get me time. Being a parent is hard, period. Being thrown into an unexpected work from home situation in the middle of a pandemic while being parent and teacher is ridiculously hard. Do your best to carve our some time for yourself. I try to get in a daily 15-20 minute walk morning or evening. For some a cup of coffee before the chaos starts is the most peaceful part of the day. Take a bath, read a book, drink some tea, exercise, but find someway to decompress and take a breath.