Another lock down is upon us and that means that once again people having school age children at home while they themselves are trying to work from home. How do you cope with trying to juggle work, homeschooling and staying sane?
WFH with children is not easy and so I’ve pulled together a few hints and tips to help with it all.
Communication is Key
Like any well oiled business, communication is key and the family unit is no different. If your children are at an age when they can understand then explain the situation in terms that they will be able to relate to. Make sure that they understand that as well as them staying at home, you have to as well but you still have to work. Explain that this sometimes means having to concentrate on work, with no interruptions. Set down some ground rules so that if you have a “do not disturb” sign on the door to the spare room then they understand that they do not come in to the room. If there IS an emergency then agree that they can send you a text or even just slip a note under the door. However, do try to keep these times minimal so that you are not completely cut off from them for the whole day! My children know that I am usually available but its best to knock on the door before coming in just in case.
There is nothing wrong in setting these boundaries so that the children can appreciate that you have to work.
I am sure that in a previous article I used the phrase Prior Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance and this definitely applies here. Going to the extreme of having a timetable may be taking organisation to the highest level but if it works for the children then go for it. Even just breaking the mornings and afternoons up into different activities will give the children a bit of structure.
I know that schools have been getting better at organising on-line homework since the first national lock down in the United Kingdom so I am sure they will be sending out some homework but this probably won’t keep the children occupied for the whole day so setting different tasks whether its doing homework, reading, drawing or even just watching something on TV then. Try to ensure that the activities you choose are things that can be done with minimum supervision. If you’re very lucky you could even try adding some household chores into the schedule, who knows you may get them tidying their room after all (no chance!)
As difficult as it is at the moment given everything that is happening, try to have a routine for throughout the week. Children will respond to a routine (that’s why timetables are such a good idea) so try to make sure that you stick to a routine. If at all possible, make sure that they get up at a reasonable time, get dressed, have breakfast and are ready to start their timetable for the week.
This should include you as well, so if you can, take regular time out to check up on them to see how they’re getting on. Possibly organise to have lunch together (if you’re lucky again they could even help prepare lunch) Ensure that you finish work for the day at a reasonable time and spend time with the children – schedule in some family time, even if its just watching some TV together or playing a game.
Routine is definitely a good thing so try to ensure that you stick to it. It’s difficult for everyone just now and your children will really appreciate a bit of “normality” knowing that they have specific things to do at specific times – and if they can see this on a timetable even better – but remember to include yourself in the timetable too so they can see that its for everyone.
It’s a really stressful time just now for everyone including the children. Trying to keep on top of everything is impossible so try not to stress too much about being perfect at it all. There will be days when the children may not get very much done or will miss a deadline for submitting homework but try not to stress too much. You getting stressed will in turn cause your children to get stressed and it will make for an unpleasant atmosphere all round. It’s bad enough having to spend all day in the house as it is without one or two of the family not speaking to each other!
Everyone appreciates – or certainly should appreciate – that having children at home while you are working is a big challenge. If you explain to your work colleagues at the first zoom meeting or Skype call that your children are now at home then it prepares them for that “unexpected” interruption! We all remember the guy being interviewed on BBC when his children waltz in.
Rewards and Treats
Now rewards and treats sounds a bit like having a pet but if you are anything like me and used to have a reward chart for the children then it might be a good time to re-introduce it if they are at an age that it is useful. Even if they are getting too old for a reward chart then the promise of a movie or a special meal at the end of the week if they complete all their tasks or have no interruptions all week when you have your “do not disturb” sign up will be incentive enough for them to stick to having some good behaviour. Make sure that you show them you are pleased with their behaviour and it will go along way.
Family and Friends
Just like during “normal” time remember that you have a network of family and friends that you can hopefully ask to assist with the task in hand. Although you are unable to drop the kids off with granny or round at a friends house then don’t be shy to ask for help. Granny could always face time or call with a child as they are reading a book or doing some other homework or even just for a chat (my son once sat watching a TV programme with granny on the phone so they could discuss it as it happened). I’m sure granny would appreciate the call just as much as your child and that would be time when you know you won’t be disturbed.
So, that’s a few ideas to help you with trying to keep children occupied as you are working from home. It’s not easy, as I can attest to but having some things organised prior to the start and sticking to a routine will hopefully make things easier for everyone until things return to normal.
I hope you enjoyed this article, if you have any ideas for other ways to help people working from home with children then please feel free to share them in the comments below. As ever, I would love to hear from you.
Especially just now, please take care,