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Tips For Parents Who Have to Work From Home Due to Covid-19

Ella Herlihy

Development & Learning

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed?

Creative Solutions for Your New At-Home Work Environment

Parents, as you consider the implications not only of the Coronavirus and how it is impacting our world, but also the impact of having your normally-at-school-for-8-hours-a-day kids now at home, you may feel a bit stressed. Many of you are facing unknowns in your work week as your businesses create new ways for accomplishing work in this tenuous environment. Some are two-parent or single-parent working families. Others have a parent who normally is at home. Some have the luxury and flexibility of working from home and some do not. Some families have an only child and some have a houseful. Despite varying circumstances, we are all struggling in many ways at this unprecedented time. Based on the ages of your children and your home/working situation, here are some suggestions for how you might navigate this season well and come out stronger on the other side.

I admire you and my heart goes out to you and how much this situation must challenge you. Yes, these circumstances are unique, but creative solutions abound. If you have young school age kids, think of who you might enlist to help as a remote tutor, even for just a couple hours a day. Are there any teenagers nearby who could help your child with schoolwork via Zoom or FaceTime? This would be a win/win. Teenagers always need money and they are closer to the math that your child is working on than you are. Reach out to your neighbors and Facebook friends to find someone who might be able to help. All college students are home and some of them don’t have many online class commitments. See if you can find one and garner their help. They can help your child stay on task and complete their work so you can enjoy your time with them when you’re finished working.

Make a To-Do List and Set Goals With Your Children

Thinking through what will help your kids have a good day and have fewer questions will limit the times they have to interrupt you at work.  Consider creating a reward chart with boxes to check off all the items you have on their to-do list. Remember to include the ones they normally do before and after school, like make bed, brush teeth, feed/walk pets, etc. Please remember to add exercise too. They can do a few minutes of a work-out video, a short list of old fashioned calisthenics, or wait until your work is done to go for a family walk or bike ride. But add this to their list so no one forgets. Variety and physical exercise are keys to mental health during this time of isolation. 

Any take-home assignments they have from their school are not meant to take the entire learn-at-home day. That being the case, if you need them to stay busy while you are working, you will need to have extra things for them to accomplish. Look over their reading/literature, science, and history assignments and find supplemental materials that enhance what they are learning in those areas. Print coloring pages, word searches, crossword puzzles, and other fun learning activities from the internet. Having a folder of these items for them to work on when they finish ahead of schedule will be a huge help. Of course a short stack of books to read is a wonderful way for them to use up their free time.

Create a Plan With a Flexible Schedule

Schedule is key. Flexibility is great, but only if your job is flexible. You may have to have a set schedule with set times when you cannot be interrupted. Look at your day in advance and figure out how you will manage your work and check in on your child. This is not like when they are sick and stay in bed all day. They will be seeking you out for questions, praise, and possibly more work to do. If you have a conference call or a time-sensitive task, determine if it is better for your child to be working on schoolwork at that time. (Will they ask you questions or do it independently? Will they run out of things to do while you are on the call and come find you to ask for more?) Based on your child’s attention level, either give them a good book and ask them to read until you come back to check on them or find an educational video the length of your task and let them watch it while you work. 

Whatever the age of your child, let this be an opportunity for them to learn problem-solving skills and perseverance as they work on tasks even to the point of frustration without immediately seeking help. Consider offering them a reward when they show improvement in this arena. It is a life skill you will be glad you taught them. Perhaps a shining light in this difficult season. Obviously the older the student, the less they will interrupt. Resist your own temptation to interrupt them and constantly seek feedback on their progress. This is a chance for them to show maturity and responsibility and move toward the type of independent student you want them to be.

Adding more to your plate presents a heavy burden and no amount of planning or preparation will make balancing all you have to do a piece of cake. However, planning ahead and working with your child to set goals will make this time a little easier and hopefully give you more time after work to enjoy each other’s company, not just check homework.

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Ella Herlihy

Being a mom to five children has given Ella Herlihy enough mistakes and victories to fuel her passion for guiding other parents along the road to raising responsible children without losing their minds in the process. She writes to help others learn from her many mistakes and victories, and what she has gleaned from all the books and seminars it takes to raise five children in today’s world. She is currently working on a book to encourage parents to choose to step back so their kids can move forward on the path to unentitled adulthood. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram @ Ella Herlihy.