It's not Spring Break, and it's not summer vacation. It's just the COVID-19 break.
If you suddenly find yourself working from home with kids, you're probably asking yourself, "how in the world am I going to get through the next few months?" And everyone knows, even though you sincerely, deeply love your children, you can only handle so much family time before the stress levels escalate.But don’t worry–you’re not alone in these uncertain times, and we can all help each other get through this new working-from-home-parenting experience.
Whether you're a parent to just one or a bushel of children, and you’ve still got your "nine to five" job, we've got you covered. The following tips will offer you guidance, give you inspiration, and put your mind at ease.
1. Have a conversation, and keep having them
Before you even begin working, let your kids in the know. It might be difficult to find the right words, but you should sit down with them to explain what’s happening in the world right now, why you're all suddnely home, and why you'll be working from home during the next month or longer. Give them a sense of awareness and understanding. Let them lead the conversation and ask you questions.
And don’t just end the dialogue there, keep it going. Talk weekly with your kids, check in with them to see how they’re doing mentally, and provide them with an emotional outlet. This is an opportunity for your kids to learn and grow. Read PBS’s advice on how to talk about COVID-19 with your kids.
2. Design a daily schedule
Now that your kids are in the loop, it’s time to adjust your daily routine and design a new household schedule for you and your family to follow. This will most likely require a few adjustments as you move forward but invite your kids to create it/adjust it with you, make it fun and colorful, and hang it on the fridge. Look through some creative DIY chart ideas on Pinterest.
For the sake of familiarity, it might be useful to establish an agenda similar to a typical school day and then build your work schedule around that. And PLEASE capitalize on naptime and movie time. With the kids fast asleep or absorbed by the screen, you will be able to concentrate without any interruption for hours. For schedule inspriation, check out this template from The Salty Mamas blog.
3. Set boundaries and expect interruptions
When working from home with kids, not only is a set agenda required, but so are work boundaries. Establishing a kid-free office zone will help you step away from your parenting role and concentrate on business matters.If you have a significant other in the household, split shifts with them and gently make it clear to your kids not to disturb you when it’s your time/day/night to work. And ALWAYS expect interruptions.
4. Have a positive mindest
In these uncertain times, we are all feeling more than a little stressed and it can be challenging enough to stay positive just for yourself. If you have kids, keeping a positive mindset is KEY. If you approach this as a multi-month, fun, silly, adventurous vacation, it’ll help your outlook improve just as much as it’ll help your kids’. Take this moment to teach your kids how to approach difficult situations and turn it into something posititve.
5. Plan fun activities
With no end to COVID-19 in the foreseeable future, you're going to need a LOT of fun activities up your sleeve to get through your new work life. Design the ultimate playroom at home! Build a fort in your living room or host a tea party. Break out those crayons and old board games! Have a "Yes Day" where you do any activiity the kids want to do or eat anything they want to eat (with reasonable limitations of course).
Short of ideas? Here's an extensive list of 70 activities for your kids to do while at home.
6. Get yourself and your kids outside
With your kids missing out on school recess, you should implement some “yard time.” If your kids can burn off some energy in the backyard or local park, the less energy they have at home. But whether you’re with the kids or not, be sure to get outside. Breathing fresh air while taking in a change of scenery will do you all some good.
And if they can't exactly get outside, take them on one of Lifewire's 10 Best Free Virtual Field Trips of 2020.
7. Loosen the rules…slightly
Working from home, you might need to add a few new rules to your household rule book. However, when it comes to getting by over these next few months, consider loosening the slack in some areas (but not too much). Giving the kids slightly more flexibility on their screen time will make staying indoors that much more doable for them. But keep in mind that after things get back to normal, these things could be difficult to manage.
8. Make time for yourself
Working from home with kids while under quarantine, your life has the potential to become rather hectic, and you'll find that you need to invest in some serious self-care. To help you keep your sanity in check, no matter how busy you are, set aside some time for yourself every day. Wake up an extra hour or two before the kids to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, go for a quick run, or read that book you've been dying to finish. Here are 15 ways you can practice self-care in the time of coronavirus.
- Your friends at WMA
For additional tips and tricks, we've sourced these helpful articles just for you:
Written by Jessica Noyes - Communications Coordinator, The Western Museums Association Communications@westmuse.org