As a new mom to a 6-month-old baby, I fully transitioned to working from home once I returned from maternity leave. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak, my husband and I are now both working from home and without childcare. Yikes!
Many parents are facing similar scenarios with daycares and schools shutting down. While it’s a positive measure to avoid further outbreak, it’s challenging to balance work and home life! Below are suggestions from AvePoint staff with kids of all ages and how they’re making this “new normal” work for their families. Read on to learn about their tips as well as available resources, activities, and a sample WFH schedule with school-aged kids.
5 Tips for WFH with Kids
- Talk about your work with your family & establish guidelines. It’s easy to see you working from home as a sign that you’re “here to help,” but letting your kids see what’s required from your work is really important to maintain a healthy separation of duties. You may find out things too, such as how your constant “shhh!” during your customer meetings make your children feel! Find a healthy and respectful boundary during two-way talks about this. Explain when you’re available or not available for certain periods of time, when you’ll take breaks, and your standard working hours.
- Carve out a working space in your home & implement physical boundaries. This may be a home office, desk, or table that you set up as your “workstation.” Implement physical boundaries if you can (for example, door closed = do not disturb; door open = you’re welcome to interrupt).
- Try to maintain a regular schedule & plan in advance. Keep your own calendar organized and prioritize work calls with other tasks you must finish. If you and a partner are both working from home, it can be challenging to balance phone calls with quiet time. Try to build a process where you can compare calendars and stagger calls if needed. A friend of mine has guest teachers help out during her kids’ “school days.” These guests could be grandparents or other family members who can interact with the kids via video chat. It makes everyone feel good and the parents can get some uninterrupted time to work!
- Have a routine, but don’t always anticipate being able to stick to it. Although you can plan out your day with meetings and calls, there will be times that you can’t stick to the plan. Anticipating deviation prevents frustration (sometimes!).
- Extend grace and accommodate for the unexpected. If working remotely is new to you, it’s also new to people you work with and live with. There will be occasional distractions such as unexpected noises, technology hiccups, or unreliable internet connectivity. As such, be patient and show grace to colleagues as they adjust to this new mode of working. Let others know the situation too by mentioning that you have small children at home and that participants may hear some background noise. Consider using a noise cancelling app during calls. Krisp is a free app that improves sound quality and reduces background noises during video and voice calls. A few of us here swear by it!
Resources & Activities for Families
- Travel the world without leaving your couch. Google Arts & Culture has provided an online experience through 500 museums around the world. With an A-Z listing or interactive world map to choose your museums, this resource allows you to learn and provide world culture with your family.
- Keep the learning alive. Scholastic’s Learn at Home has grade-level specific learning courses and curriculum for your children. They also have learning opportunities for families and offer courses in multiple languages!
- Exercise! Join UK-based Personal Trainer for “P.E. classes” at 9:00 AM GMT to help kids stay active. Classes are available to stream on YouTube for anyone who can’t tune in live.
- Present the facts and appropriate impressions. The CDC has put together guidelines and support for how best to discuss this COVID-19 pandemic with your children. Look to your school district for support in messaging as well.
Sample WFH Schedule
Below is a sample schedule from one of our parents who is working from home with his spouse and two school-aged children.
Working from home with kids is challenging and no day will be perfect or go according to plan. Although you’re out of your “normal” routine, keep in touch with your support network and be sure to step away from the computer for family time (if you can) throughout the day. Others are in a similar boat, and eventually, we will come out of this stronger!
Do you have any tips of your own? Comment and share below!