Working Remotely with Kids? COVID-19 has driven more and more people to work at home, shelter in place, and wonder where the next roll of toilet paper will come from. And if that’s not bad enough, schools have been closed for the foreseeable future.
People who are used to working in an office are now challenged not only with working remotely, but doing it when the kids are home. To say that this can be frustrating is an understatement. But hope is not lost.
The keys to both working at home and working at home with kids are boundaries, schedules, and good old-fashioned creativity.
So here are some ideas to help you stay sane (and productive) while working at home with your children.
Things for the kids to do:
- Get dressed, brush their teeth, and make their beds. This isn’t a sick day or a vacation. Try to maintain normalcy.
- Resist the urge to sit them in front of the TV all day. Pull out books, puzzles, art supplies, and even costumes then encourage creative play. Set timers to challenge them. An hour of play, then time for a snack.
- Structure the kids’ time. They’re used to being in school, so approximate that at home. Decide what time lunch is, when to do art projects, time to read, etc. You won’t hear “I’m bored” as much from kids who have a schedule. (But remember to be flexible, too.)
- Get out the Lego bricks and issue a challenge. See how creative they can be when you give them some guidance or a topic. Tell them how many bricks they have to use, set a time limit, and watch them build!
- Teach them to bake something from scratch (bread, cookies, cake). Not only will you have more food for the week, but baking is chemistry! Teach them while making something fun.
- Bring out their inner Picasso, Rodin, or Warhol. Supply them with paper, markers, paints, clay, or other media. Give them some ideas of what to create, or simply let their creativity flow unfettered. Make some blue ribbons to put on their masterpieces and display them proudly (on the fridge or elsewhere)!
- Bring out old books and challenge them to read them again to discover new things they didn’t notice before.
- Teach them how to use virtual meeting spaces like Zoom, Facetime, or Skype to have virtual play dates with their friends.
- Set up a Slack channel for older kids to have study groups or even just “hang out” with friends. Get them off their phones and into a group where they can chat, hang out, and share media openly (and you can still be present).
- Have them create a “restaurant” for you. Give them the means to make lunch for you, set the table, serve you, and clean up afterward. Make sure to tip your servers.
- You may be working in isolation, but you don’t have to stay inside. Go for a drive or a walk. Let them take photos with a camera or phone. Post the photos later for them to share with others. Just remember good physical distancing from others, and hand washing when you get home.
Ways for you to maintain your sanity and productivity:
- Get dressed, brush your teeth, and make your bed. This isn’t a sick day or a vacation for you either. Try to maintain normalcy.
- Go ahead and have some coffee.
- Set up your home work space outside of the main area of activity. Depending on how old your children are, you can maintain more (or less) distance, but try to put yourself in an area where distractions are minimal.
- Make sure the kids know what they are able to interrupt you for, and what should wait. Someone got injured? Interrupt. Their brother is hogging the remote control? Figure it out or wait.
- Find ways to connect with other adults virtually. Many companies use Slack, but you can also message people on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and many other chat programs.
- Make sure your work space is comfortable. If you start getting sore, move around. Change your chair. You may be working from home for awhile, so make sure you aren’t harming yourself.
- Be careful how much you talk about COVID and the fears that are building. Or politics. Or any current events that could cause too much fear in your little ones. They may not need to be sheltered entirely, but they do need to be protected from nightmares and anxieties that children can face in times like these.
- Find time to connect with the kids. Check in on them. See how they’re faring. Take breaks with them, and do fun things as your schedule allows.
- Finish the day on time. Make sure the kids have the experience of you shutting off the computer and turning your attention to them. They need you now more than ever.
We may be sheltering in place for a while, but it doesn’t have to be a bad experience. If you’re working remotely with kids you can still find ways to have fun as a family. Watch movies. Play games. Teach the kids rummy or euchre. Cook together. Write a journal together. Talk. Laugh.
Whatever it is that makes your family uniquely “you,” make sure you keep doing that.
Do you have other ideas? Leave us a comment. We may tweet it out!
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