How to survive working from home with children

Perhaps more than anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has demanded adaptability. Either send your masked children to school full-time, juggle a hybrid schedule, or help them manage remote school (and countless tech issues). You may have gone from an off-site daycare to an on-site nanny. Maybe you have to help your kids solve math problems between calls or you’re killing yourself in virtual meetings. And then, as soon as your family hits its stride, everything changes.


You’re not alone.

After years of experience in a corporate office environment, 13 years ago I started working from home as a freelancer while pregnant. Eleven years ago, while caring for my 2-year-old daughter, I became pregnant with twins. I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when working from home while parenting with no outside childcare help. And this year I’ve learned even more now that my husband and I are working from home while our children are sometimes engaged in virtual education through their schools, backyard games, video game challenges and epic battles between siblings.

Before I share some tips and tricks, know this: no one expects perfection. Working from home with children is difficult. Your plate is not only full right now, it’s overflowing. And that chicken nugget (cooked from the old bag in the freezer) that just fell off that plate will be grabbed by the dog whose muddy paws destroyed the living room carpet after your child let him in while you were in the middle of a conference. call. Not only is it okay, but it’s expected. But when tears or swearing inevitably start to flow, here’s a little help.


Set clear expectations when working from home with children
Children are not colleagues. But what they lack in brain development and maturity is love and humor; and sometimes frustration. Years ago when my daughter was very young, our whole family was in the van and my husband had to make a work call. After explaining the importance of being quiet, there was a brief pause, then my daughter shouted, « Do you want to hear how good I can make a sheep sound? »

Here are some tips to make your day a little less stressful.

Choose separate designated workspaces for each adult working in the house (a desk, a desk, even a temporary card table in the living room). This sets the expectation among your children that when an adult is in that space, they should leave that adult alone unless it is an emergency. One exception: When kids are doing homework, some parents find it helpful to have everyone share the kitchen table. This way, an adult is present to answer school-related questions, help with online submissions, and break up arguments between siblings when one child is angry that the other is tapping their pencil too hard on the face. table. If two adults in the same household are working from home, share this responsibility to prevent parent/teacher burnout.
Children like order, routine and knowing what awaits them. Be clear about the day’s itinerary (“I’m working until 4:30 p.m. today; we’ll hang out after 4:30 p.m. Tonight we’ll all be playing Uno.”) family. Give them a voice to make the family’s daily routine work for them too. Remember, it’s stressful for everyone, not just you.
To avoid noise and interruptions, equate your work with their school work, reminding them how irritated they are when they try to do homework and that a sibling (or parent) is disruptive.
Children need to be entertained sometimes, but don’t set them up to fail. Suggest quiet activities when they have downtime. (Puzzles or crafts are great.) Download books from the library or teach your kids how to access and listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Provide easy access to LEGOs, board games, toy cars, dolls – whatever they do. Give them extra screen time. We’re in the middle of a pandemic – an extra hour or two of electronics a day won’t scare them away forever. In addition, many authors, illustrators, musicians, teachers, national parks, museums and many more offer interesting, educational and glorious online content.

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