Working from home has its benefits – and a steep learning curve, especially if you’re not used to it. Add in the fact that many schools across the U.S. are closed due to COVID-19 and parents are juggling education and employment, and day-to-day life starts to quickly become overwhelming.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to bring an office job home amid the coronavirus pandemic, and you’re struggling to manage kids and daily work responsibilities, here are a few tips to get you on the right track.
Set a routine and structure
Kids are unpredictable, and your teachers and daycare providers are superheroes for mega multi-tasking. Take a page from their books and set routines and structure throughout the day. Try to keep things as normal as possible, like making lunches the night before or covering certain subjects in similar environments, to benefit your kids and give you parameters for planning your day. Your “structure” might look like napping when kids nap, or taking downtime to be with kids while they’re awake and catching up on work “after hours”. Figure out what will work best for you and your family, and make sure to communicate your needs to your boss and coworkers.
Be honest and communicate
What was “typical” for you two or three weeks ago likely doesn’t exist anymore. While you might not always be keen to share your personal details with your boss or coworkers, it’s time for everyone to adjust to a new normal. Let everyone know that you have kids at home and ask for flexibility and patience. Establish boundaries and working hours, as well as ideal times for certain activities. If you’re co-parenting – or have a spouse or partner at home – coordinate schedules and availability.
Tech tools aren’t just for work
As happy hours and special events take over Zoom, use these platforms to help entertain or educate your kids. Are family members available via video tools to read to your children during certain times or a big meeting? Are there e-learning or distance learning platforms for school-aged children? The same technology that’s keeping you productive can help engage your kids, too.
Know when to turn it all off
Set an “end of day” for everyone. Kids have bedtime and adults need to stick to their schedules. In this strange new reality, it’s important to separate work and school from family life, home activities and down time. Play outside, follow a workout video, cook dinner, take a bath or whatever works for your family to leave work “at” work and focus on each other.