COVID-19, Kids and Working From Home

COVID-19, Kids and Working From Home: How to Manage It All

The COVID-19 virus-of-the-year has been spreading all across the planet and doing much more widespread damage than any of its nemesis like Swine Flu or Ebola. It’s here to stay, but thankfully, not for long though.

During this time, a lot of schools, kindergartens and playschools unfortunately had to close, meaning that kids have had to stay home. This may be good news for the kids but certainly not for their parents who also got sent to work from home during the quarantine period.

Technically, the situation couldn’t have been better – children now get to spend more time with their parents, right? Wrong! Having to work from home for a day or two when your kid got sick is an experience many of us have had – and it’s rather manageable.

Working from home and looking after children for an extended period of time, on the other hand, is a real challenge. It’s a skill you need to learn – and here are 5 simple tips to assist you in the process of managing your work and kids more effectively.

1. Create a schedule and stick to it

Normally, children would have a schedule they live by – wake up, have breakfast, dress up, go to school, come back from school, do homework, play, sleep, repeat. This is not to say they like having their day planned out so rigidly, but it happens to work for everyone’s benefit.

Being in quarantine and your working from home might send a wrong signal to your kids – they might think every day is a holiday now, which is clearly not the case. Therefore, what you need to do first is explain to your kids that “mommy/daddy is not on holiday” and that you cannot dedicate all your free time to them. You’ve been sent home to work for at least 8 hours a day and that’s the time you’d better be left alone.

Having organized yourself, you need to organize your kids next. Since kids do not operate on the same level of understanding as adults, simple explaining and reasoning might not be enough.

What will really help is creating a schedule that will work for all of you, your partner, and your kids. Try recreating the schedule you had before you went into quarantine – this will make it easier for everyone to get used to it.

Here’s an example of a sample schedule for your child to follow:

  • 7 am – wake up
  • 7:30 am – washing up/breakfast
  • 8 am to 11 am – reading/studying
  • 11 am – playtime
  • 12 pm – lunch
  • 1 pm to 3 pm – nap time
  • 3 pm to 5 pm – playtime
  • 5 pm – reading/homework
  • 6 pm – dinner
  • 7 pm – bath/preparing to go to bed
  • 8:30 pm – bedtime

One important thing you have to remember is that you have to control your kids and make them actually follow that schedule, which will require a few days of tweaking, depending on how disciplined your child is.

2.   Be open about your situation

If you’re working from home and have to look after your kids at the same time, tell your colleagues and your boss about it. First of all, there’s nothing wrong about being open with your workmates, especially if it concerns your work directly. Secondly, this will help you to avoid awkward situations like your kid suddenly dancing and screaming in the background while you’re on Skype or attending an online zoom meeting.

3.   Set restrictions

Stemming directly from tip #1, this is something you have to do as soon as possible. You need to tell your kids (and the rest of the family for that matter) that there will be certain hours you won’t be available for them unless it’s a total emergency.

If your kids are school-aged, it shouldn’t pose a big problem – they should understand. For pre-school kids and toddlers especially, it could get more difficult due to them not being able to grasp the concept of “working from home.” In this case, you should use the old-fashioned trick of turning it into a game where you set the rules. One thing you have to keep in mind: do not go all dramatic on your kids. Just tell them they can always call you when they need you while trying to keep them busy with games and/or other activities. Again, the schedule we mentioned before should also help. Once the kids get used to it, you can ease your grip on them, stop worrying and focus on work.

4.   Work in shifts together with your partner

That’s what partners are for – to help each other! Taking turns playing with your children and sharing other household duties between the two of you will take the excessive burden off your shoulders.

Decide who’s gonna make breakfast, walk the dog, wash the dishes, play with your child, go to the grocery store, and so on. Again, a nice little plan won’t hurt. If you have other relatives living with you in the house, why not involve them too? These days, any extra help will be appreciated and help your family become a tighter unit.

5.   Don’t forget to take a break

Allow yourself some time off during working hours – much like you would do it in the office. Taking a 10-minute break every hour is a rule of thumb – if your current workload allows that.