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7 Tips for Working from Home with Kids

Birth2Work Co-founder, father, grandfather

A lot has changed this past week. Schools have closed, and families are now attempting to balance adult work and kids learning at home.

My daughter-in-law wrote about this monumental change that has swept over our country on Facebook. She has a remarkable sense of perspective (my son was blessed to have found such a great partner) and speaks from experience as she homeschooled all four of her children.

The oldest of her children speaks seven languages and started college at 16. He now lives in Hong Kong with his wife. The second is in his second year at seminary school.The third and fourth are still at home: One attends a premier ballet school but also has a pension for business. The other does her studies but also works alongside her parents in their home-based business. Together, as a family team, they navigated different responsibilities, different interests, and different schedules.

While the current situation is definitely different than what we’re used to, with the right mindset, we can view this time together as an unparalleled opportunity to not only bond but also engage! Engagement is one of the most important things you can do to make a big difference in your child becoming a happy, caring, successful, and potentially wealthy adult. 

What my daughter-in-law wrote really hits the mark. It’s been reformatted for easier reading. 

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For most the change is pretty daunting. And it will definitely be an adjustment. In the end though we will all be better off for it. Think about the implications for the environment alone when everyone isn’t sitting in a car for their average 51-minute commute.

Kids are going to realize that professional-style stadiums and performing arts theaters in schools are not really necessary. We don’t have to waste all that energy on lighting and turf care. How much more time we will have in our days now that we aren’t shuffling kids from one activity to the next!

I’ve always believed that a woman’s place is in the home, but so is a man’s place. It’s so good for kids to see their parents work and to work alongside them. It’s better for communities to have families that live and work in the same place. I think alternative and distance learning are the wave of the future as is remote work.

 I know this is scary, but here are a few tips:

01

Give the kids time first. Go over their assignments with them, and set a schedule that allows them to do their least favorite subject first. (Depending on how your school district has online learning set up this may not be possible, but if it is, definitely get them a routine where their least favorite stuff comes first.)

02

Schedule time for breaks and lunch where they can be loud and silly and play and so can you.

03

Set up an interruption notebook so that if your kids have a question they just write it in the notebook and when you have a break in your work you can respond. Tell them to move on to something else in the meantime. You need to schedule uninterrupted time for your own work so be sure they understand this. Usually, if you give them time and attention first, it is not a problem.

04

Younger kids who cannot read and write should be put on a later schedule so they sleep in if possible.

05

You should get up early and do as much of your work as possible before they wake because it will go a long way to reducing your anxiety if you already get stuff done before the littles awake.

06

If possible arrange for older kids to spend an hour or two “teaching” littles by reading to them or playing games with them while you work. You can pay them for this if you want, but really it teaches them community responsibility so it is just something I would expect of my kids. Set a timer though and respect your older children’s time so it doesn’t turn into an all-day thing.

07

Most of all set up a schedule/routine but make it flexible.

Things happen. Don’t stress it. You will adjust and in due course I think you will love this new work in you pj’s lifestyle. And so will your kids. In due course people will talk about how the Industrial Revolution and the world wars temporarily shifted life away from the home, but coronavirus brought us back. (I also know this isn’t possible for all careers […] I am talking in general trends here.) 

If you’d like some more ideas, take a look at this NPR article for some additional thoughts on how to work from home with kids.

And remember, it’s going to take some time to adjust to our new normal, so don’t be too hard on yourself if some days don’t go as well as you would like. But do take the opportunity to talk with your family about what worked and what didn’t and how you can try again the next day.

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