The recent quarantine directive has caused schools to close, and several businesses to operate remotely, creating a mind-boggling situation for many parents across the nation, left scrambling to prepare for triple duty, working from home, parenting, and remote learning.
Managing your child’s schedule while maintaining your own can seem overwhelming because it is. Parents are all asking the same question “Are there ways to be somewhat productive while WFH with children?” Although it’s not an easy feat, it can be done, and we’re here to help with seven tips on how to be productive while working from home with children during quarantine.
First and foremost, one of the most helpful ways parents can maintain productivity while working at home with children is by creating a daily schedule for their kids and sticking to it.
Implementing a schedule with visuals for children offers structure that is familiar at school that they may feel lost without. A plan of any kind will create a sense of calmness and normalcy for the time being, as we all try to get through this situation.
A common problem many caregivers face while working from home are children constantly nagging about what to do. We aren’t suggesting that having a schedule in place is a cure-all for this problem, but it’s a start. When your child asks, “Mommy, what can I do?” Direct them to the schedule, or look at the plan together.
If you have older children, we recommend sharing your schedule, by having it on display. Children tend to learn by example, and by seeing the adults in their lives stick to their responsibilities, they typically will follow suit.
Try to designate yourself a private space in the home to complete your work. Whether it be a home office, bedroom, walk-in-closet, or corner in the kitchen, having your own space will support you in being more productive.
Obviously, having your own space does not magically ward off young children when you’re in the middle of a business call. But, it can keep you more organized, and offer you a much-needed retreat from the battle zone cough playroom.
Offer your child some construction paper and have them cut out red/green go and stop signs, or create a thumbs up or thumbs down signs, to place on your computer or home office door, signaling when it’s okay for interruptions. Coupled with a private space, this may improve parent’s productivity.
When your children are through with their schoolwork, they often come to you looking for suggestions on what to do next, especially when they’ve exhausted all of their ideas.
We propose developing a boredom box, filled with activities to do, including fun things for kids that weren’t free before social distancing. Write the ideas on small pieces of paper and place them in the box. Make it a rule that they must do whatever they pick, and they can’t put it back. This makes for a fun and exciting game!
For toddlers, and younger children, fill the boredom box with arts and crafts, such as white paper, construction paper, a new box of crayons, glue sticks, play dough, kid-friendly scissors, books, pom-poms, and stickers. The possibilities are endless.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this is certainly true when it comes to children and their toys. For parents looking to buy themselves some much needed quiet time, we recommend toy rotation.
Choose a selection of toys for your children to play with now, and stow away the rest until a later date, we recommend a week or two. Toy rotation keeps your child from going into toy overload and encourages appreciation of what they currently have.
When possible, try to work in some breaks into your daily schedule to spend time with your children. Whether these breaks are 10-15 minutes or one hour long and spent reading a short picture book or taking a walk outside - parents must remember to be mindful and fully present during those times. Your children want to be with you. Knowing that they will receive that time can make a difference.
For those that are unable to take small breaks during the day, we recommend including your children on a designated lunch break. Again, be fully present during this limited time, and resist checking your social media. Ask your child about their day, play a board game, or read a book while enjoying your lunch.
We’re sure you’ve heard the same question over a thousand times by now, “Can I have a snack?” This can put a serious damper on staying productive when working at home, and it gets annoying fast. If you’re wondering, how do I stop my kid’s from snacking all day? It falls back to our number one suggestion of putting scheduling in place. When a child has a schedule, they're busy, and if they're busy, they're not bored. Boredom tends to lead to all-day snacking.
Start by designating when you will offer snacks. We recommend twice a day, once mid-morning, and once mid-afternoon. To limit interruptions during the day, prep some healthy snacks for school your kids will love the night before ready to grab from the refrigerator.
If your child starts begging for a snack between meal times, implement the boredom box. If the boredom box fails, breakout some healthy vegetable snacks as their only snack option. An extra helping of vegetables isn't going to hurt anyone.
Communicate with your children and discuss your expectations for how things will be run at home, for however long, your family must practice self-distancing. Explain how you must work from home, and how you work best when left alone with limited interruptions.
Give your children lots of praise when they leave you to your work, and follow the schedule. Offer your children incentives for following the rules. Children love to be rewarded for good behavior! Parents could allow children to have more screen time, or they could have a special treat or even a brand new toy for being on their best behavior all week!