Let me guess—you’re here reading this article because you are one of the many who are currently juggling a work-from-home job and the most important job of all, parenting. We all know this isn’t an easy feat—pan to the classic image of you on a Zoom call while your 6-year-old “decorates” the wall behind you with his favorite Sharpies (quick tip—Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is a savior for these scary incidences). An added cherry-on-top to these overwhelming times is that now you’re also responsible for your child’s education. Here are some tips and tricks to help you and your little one get through these unprecedented times.
What Does Your Calendar Look Like?
It’s likely you ask this question to a coworker or two throughout the week, but have you ever asked your school-aged child? Probably a little less likely. Every classroom has a set schedule of some kind; whether it’s your 6-year-old having time allotted for morning meeting and snacks, or your 13-year-old with assigned “blocks” or “periods” for each subject. Sit down with your child and/or their teacher and see how their normal schedule fits into yours. Some things that could help with this are:
- A calendar or planner that you both can reference to outline each day; keep this in a common space as a reminder to stay on task.
- Designate specific times for breaks—it is best to maintain a consistent schedule throughout the week.
- Set email reminders for yourself of your child’s specific assignments and projects that are upcoming.
If you are working surrounded by children under the age of 5, then I apologize the above tip probably won’t help you maintain peace throughout the day. You can, however, apply it to your own calendar. No one knows your child better than you do. Do they have their highest energy levels early in the morning or after their nap? Do you have an arsenal of back up activities for when the coloring just doesn’t cut it? Set yourself up for success by budgeting your time according to their typical behavior.
In a completely new environment, we all need time to adjust. Add a screaming toddler or middle-schooler trying to understand algebra into the mix and your productivity is likely to plummet. Be open and honest with yourself and your co-workers regarding your working situation. You’re facing many new obstacles, so learning to understand that not all work will be perfect or timely during a global pandemic is important.
With this, also recognize that your child’s productivity will be impacted. The goal is to keep the experience close to how they would learn in a classroom, so set boundaries and determine a “workspace” for them. This can be as simple as a cleared-off section of your dining room table where you organize their schoolbooks, writing utensils, notebooks, etc. Your child sees home as a place to escape the formality and restrictions of school, so it is vital to emphasize the difference between the play-zones and work-zones in your home. If your children are not yet school-age, then think about activities that keep them entertained for longer periods of time. This could be anything from learning games, to art projects (social media site Pinterest has a surplus of ideas), or a new book.
Breaks are Healthy
Everyone has those moments of reflection where you think to yourself “did I really just stare at a computer screen for 4 straight hours?”. When at home, it can be even harder to step away and give yourself the mental breaks that you need, and now you have a little buddy to share your breaks with. Take advantage of these breaks to get both yourself and your child moving: play catch outside (they’re missing out on their daily recess time), or play an interactive game indoors. I’ve recently learned that there is a plethora of YouTube channels that offer kids’ entertainment. Here are a few that I found:
- Cosmic Kids Yoga: With this channel you both can watch these videos, all about 20 minutes long, to get moving and keep your child hooked on the interesting plot lines.
- Nick Jr: This is a great extension into learning from characters your child might already see on their favorite television shows like Paw Patrol.
- Netflix Jr: Here is a reliable channel that has categories for many different types of content, including how-to videos, educational songs, art projects, and more.
Hopefully, these tips will guide you through this time as we all fight to flatten the curve. It’s important to remember that life in the times of COVID-19 is scary and stressful for everyone, so be easy on yourself and your little ones while you adjust to the new normal.
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McCarthy, Ellen. “Two Parents, Two Jobs, Two Young Kids: Inside the Chaos of Family Quarantine.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 May 2020, (www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/two-parents-two-jobs-two-young-kids-one-day-after-another/2020/05/07/21e4fc24-8b25-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html) Accessed 22 July 2020.
Rosa, K. G. “7 Easy Ways To Entertain Your Toddler While You Work From Home.” Parent.com, 20 Apr. 2020, (www.parent.com/7-easy-ways-to-entertain-your-toddler-while-you-work-from-home/) Accessed 22 July 2020.
“Yes, You Can Work and Homeschool Your Children!” Edited by Home School Facts Editors, Home School Facts, 25 Apr. 2017, (www.homeschoolfacts.com/yes-can-work-homeschool-children/) Accessed 22 July 2020.