Working + Parenting + Teaching From Home: A Guide
April 8, 2020
Working from home can be challenging enough but throw kids into the mix and it can be nearly impossible to stay productive. If the thought of potentially working from home with your children for an extended period of time feels overwhelming, we’ve got your back.
Our team collected the best tips from around the internet (and from their own experience) for managing busy children while working from home:
1. Routines – they’re important!
-When your child was in a child care or school setting previously, they had a set routine that included a mix of indoor and outdoor playtime, teacher-led activities, individual activities, mealtimes and naptime. Not only does that routine provide them stability, comfort and security – it also gives you a jumping off point as their new primary care provider/work-from-home-parent.
-Many adults thrive on routine, as well! Try to keep a similar routine when working from home that you had when you worked out of the house. Wake up at the same time every day. Keep your work areas separate from your living areas (resist the urge to work from your bed or on the couch in front of the TV). If you work allows, turn off your computer at the end of the day. Treat evenings as you normally would – with family dinner, some outdoor time and a predictable bedtime routine.
2. Schedule – plan for the best case but don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t hit every mark!
-We’ve seen a lot of great daily schedules for parents trying to work from home and keep their kids engaged in age-appropriate activities. While most of these schedules are great, they can be overwhelming as you consider how you’ll plan Pinterest-perfect craft activities for 20 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of yoga, then a 10-minute break for a well-rounded organic snack (that your local grocery store has run out of the ingredients for)… all while you’re trying to participate in several video conference calls with clients and read through documents that have time-sensitive deadlines. The point is – schedules are a great way to make sure you don’t spend your whole day living minute-to-minute and scrambling to come up with activities your kids can work on. We recommend you start with a schedule and some ideas for activities. Better to have more planned and not get to it all (you can use those tomorrow) than to have not enough planned! Check out our guide for creating a visual schedule for your kids.
-Don’t forget to also plan your own schedule for the day. Make sure your calls/meetings and work time align with what you’ve set for your children.
- If there are any work tasks you can do the night before, do them when your kids are in bed. Then in the morning, you’re already caught up on things other people might be waiting on from you, like reviewing docs, responding to questions, or scheduling calls and meetings.
- For some inspiration, you can download the weekly menu from your local Kiddie Academy from the Parent Resources section of the website.
- Prep bottles in advance.
- Involve your kids in meal planning.
- Give kids a water bottle labeled with their name. This is their assigned water bottle that they can use all day if they get thirsty, so they don’t have to ask you for drinks all day long.
- Have themed meals to introduce some fun to the day – for example, Taco Tuesday, Red Foods, Foods That Start with C, etc.
- Try to schedule important meetings and Deep Work sessions during naptimes.
- Take a look at the weather report. If it looks nice enough, plan to take work outside and watch your kids play. Plan to eat meals outside, as well!
- Plan for breaks in your day to hang out with your kids. Read a book together, eat meals together, work on a craft or activity together.
- Use a timer or marks on a clock to help them understand when breaks are and when you are available.
- Rotate rooms throughout the day for a change of scenery.
- Recruit your older child as a helper. Loop that child into your schedule planning and let them know what to expect and give specific instructions on how they can help you.
- Planning meals in advance will take quite a load off!
-Our team of early childhood curriculum experts thoughtfully curated a list of activities and resources to help your family Learn OnSM at home. Whether it’s during mealtime, playtime, clean up time, bath time or bedtime – our Life Essentials®At Home curriculum is built so you can easily integrate learning opportunities in seamless, easy and fun ways.
-In the evenings or on the weekend, create baskets or bins filled with the supplies needed for various planned activities, so everything is ready to grab and go. You could create:
- Art bin (filled with paper, safety scissors, crayons, stickers, etc.)
- Play dough bin (filled with play dough, cookie cutters, dough roller, etc.)
- Reading bin (filled with their favorite books)
- STEM bin (this could be a series of bins filled with supplies to run several different STEM experiments [see our STEM Adventures Activity Guide for inspiration])
- Loose pieces bin (filled with non-choking hazard pieces from around the house that kids can use for whatever creative purposes they can imagine).
-Check your email – your school may have sent some age-appropriate activities for you to do with your child at home! If not, check your local library and school system websites for curriculum ideas.
Remember to give yourself grace.
-What you are doing (attempting to work while simultaneously caring for and teaching your child(ren)) is not typically done because it’s not, well, doable. Don’t compare yourself with what you see on social media. Don’t beat yourself up if your best laid plans don’t turn out the way you had hoped. You are doing your best!
-In case of emergency, break glass. Here are your back-up plans for days when you have back-to-back-to-back video calls and the kids just don’t want to follow the schedule you had planned:
- FaceTime with friends: Call a mom friend or relative and ask if they’ll FaceTime with your kids while you hop on a conference call.
- Play photographer: Let your child use your phone or tablet to go on a photo scavenger hunt (download our photo scavenger hunt game) or film a short video about their favorite things. Because they don’t get to use your phone or tablet often, the novelty will buy you some time to get in on an emergency video call.
- Build a fort: Let the kids use every pillow, blanket and cardboard box you own to build a fort (and make a giant mess of your living room). The clean-up will be an epic undertaking, but hey, you can worry about that at 5pm.
- HappyFeet Youth Soccer is sharing daily online soccer classes for your little one to follow at home.
- The PBS KIDS Video app is available on mobile, tablet, and connected TV devices and offers on-demand educational videos, and a live stream of the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel. No subscription required.
- The PBS KIDS Games app has nearly 200 educational games, which can be downloaded for offline play anytime, anywhere.