You would think that since I’ve worked from home with at least one child at home for a few years now I would be a pro at it now that both my girls are home every day, but I am not. The truth is the reason I was able to do it before the stay-at-home order was that one of my girls was in school until 3 p.m. and that I hired a babysitter to come over and care for my youngest on my busy workdays. Now I am on my own because I can’t have either one of our sitters over during social distancing and because my husband is still working outside the home in his “essential” role. He is home Mondays and Thursdays, so on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays I am working remotely with both my girls. I feel like I have three and a half jobs: my full-time editing job, being a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling and blogging. I’m sharing more about working from home with kids during the pandemic, how it’s going, as well as what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.
Some days are really hard, and some are not much different than before the stay-at-home order. I have tried different things to keep the girls occupied and let me get some work done. Much of my work happens during naptime or in the morning when I occupy them with activities. Usually I keep my laptop in their room or wherever they are playing and try to work as they play.
Craft kits: I shared how I ordered craft kits both to support a local business and charity and to keep them busy. They were happy to do the kits, but it wasn’t an independent task.
IPad for distance learning: V’s school sent home her iPad and she has activities to do each day. Most of them can be done independently after I show her the initial instructions. She still needs my help but I am happy to do so. If she isn’t feeling it, I don’t force learning; we try to at least do the required daily activities, though. It helps to break up learning with playtime. We have a bounce house the girls got for Christmas that they can play on, and I’m grateful that they can play while I bring my laptop down to the basement to work while watching them.
Switching from room to room: We go from living room to bedroom to basement throughout the day. They have different toys in each so it can keep them occupied for short periods.
Outside time: If the weather is nice I try to take them on a walk during the day or letting them play in the yard. This gives me a break from my computer, too.
What I’ve learned:
Stop trying to do everything. You won’t have the house perfectly clean. Your child won’t always want to do schoolwork. You won’t be perfectly dressed. Meals won’t be the healthiest. It’s OK to do the best you can.
Be patient with yourself and your children.
Take things one step at a time.
If your boss isn’t understanding, be honest about your situation. It’s unreasonable to expect the same level of productivity.
Don’t force learning. Kids have a hard time with this, too. I try to encourage her to do a little more but if she is really not feeling it we are done for the day.
Don’t feel guilty about screen time. This is hard for me, but I think we need to accept a little more screen time sometimes for everyone’s sanity. If I have an important work call and I need to keep them quiet and entertained and safe, I have no problem putting on a movie and handing them a snack while I am in the meeting. I can pull up the camera on my cellphone during the meeting so I can see what they are doing. I always mute myself during calls, so if I need to take care of them while listening on speaker phone I can do so without interrupting the meeting.
Schedule or no schedule? Do what works for you. For me, I have a rough idea of how I want the day to go. We do schoolwork after breakfast and then break up learning with playtime. I let her decide which subject to do next.
Pick up the school lunch. If you’re stressed about having to stop work to make lunch or provide snacks every 5 minutes, you could try picking up the school lunch that many districts are providing to everyone. That way it is already prepared and it will be familiar to your child. It can save you time in preparing meals.
I hope this is helpful to parents in the same situation. I am not claiming to have it together but these are reminders I try to tell myself when I feel defeated. My therapist has also suggested some of these tips. We are in this together.