Managing Work and Kids’ Remote Learning in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tips to Manage Kids’ Remote Learning and Your Job

The COVID-19 pandemic caused 48 states to shut down schools during the late winter and early spring of the 2019-20 school year. At the same time, many employers sent their employees home to work on a temporary part-time or full-time basis. If you’re in a separated or divorced family, and you’re preparing for a new school year to begin, you may be wondering how you can manage to earn a living while coordinating your kids’ remote learning without becoming overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated.

List What the Problems Are

Before you can solve your issue with kids not returning to school and the need to continue working, be clear with yourself. List what the exact issues are. For example, your problem may be that your young children need constant help with the learning platform, and this disrupts your ability to work from home. If your boss is requiring you to return to a brick-and-mortar location, your concerns may be related to a lack of childcare and worries about whether your children will do the required educational activities in their distance learning program.

Revisit Your Custody Arrangements

This situation has been especially challenging for separated and divorced families. The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has already gone on for six months, and it could continue for another six months or longer. Nobody knows if or when a vaccine will be available. With all of these unknowns, you may want to consider reexamining your custody arrangements with your ex-spouse. A divorce attorney can review your existing arrangements to determine if a new schedule could be worked out and approved by a family law judge. If your ex-spouse has a more flexible work schedule, it is possible that a temporary change in custody arrangements could allow you to do your job with fewer distractions without sacrificing your children’s need to learn. Some custody alternatives might involve:

  • Including grandparents in the childcare plan
  • Alternating weeks
  • Asking the ex-spouse to pay for in-home childcare
  • Enrolling the children in the ex-spouse’s school district if it’s open

Consider a Learning Co-Op With Other Parents

If you do not want to change your custody arrangements or it’s not possible to do so, remember the phrase, “it takes a village.” Consider creating a learning co-op with the parents of your children’s schoolmates. You may discover that two or three other families have the same issue. You might be able to trade caring for the kids, with each parent taking one or two days per week. This would keep your social bubble small and reduce possible exposures. You would not have to pay for childcare. Your kids would get to socialize with some peers, and you would only need to request one day of flexible work scheduling. If your day to watch the group of kids is Wednesday, for example, try opening time in the middle of the week. Ask your boss if you could work longer hours on the other days of the week and check in early Wednesday morning and late Wednesday afternoon. Some benefits of a learning co-op include:

  • Kids can work on assignments together
  • Children can maintain mental health
  • Combining forces with like-minded families

Determine If You Can Afford Childcare

School closures also mean a loss of latchkey services. In-home childcare providers and daycare centers may be closed or have reduced capacity. Determine if you can afford childcare. If you are willing to share with another family, you could lower your costs. Some options include:

  • Au pairs
  • Nannies
  • College students taking online classes
  • Childcare workers on furlough

Ask About Alternate Work Hours

Another way to manage your need to work and your kids learning at home is to ask for alternate work hours. Political leaders have requested that employers be more flexible and sympathetic to New Jersey parents who are dealing with this situation. If possible, present your boss with some options. You might suggest:

  • Split work day from 6:00 to 9:00 am and 3:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Four long work days per week
  • Alternate work hours, such as 5:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Working weekends while your ex-spouse has the kids and working half-days on weekdays

Think About What You Need for Productivity

If you are working at home and you have one or more children doing remote learning for school, you may be able to enhance your productivity by improving your environment. If your children had to share devices for connecting to learning platforms during the chaotic end of the 2019-20 school year, consider purchasing a device for each child and asking your ex-spouse to contribute to this expense. Find out if your school district will distribute devices to each child for remote learning. Some other ways to get more done while working at home and managing the kids’ learning could include:

  • Workstations in separate rooms
  • Noise-canceling headphones for each person
  • Supply stations with everything each person needs
  • Grab-and-go snacks
  • List of logins and passwords for each learning platform
  • Color-coded chart of who needs to do what by when

Request Flexible Remote Learning Schedules

Ask the school administrators if your children can have flexible remote learning schedules. While class Zoom or Google Meets may need to happen at specified times, your kids might be able to work on assignments or log into platforms during evenings or weekend times when you are not working. If you are working from home, your kids could do quiet reading time, art or other activities that require minimal supervision until you are able to assist them.

Check With Family Members for Help

If you have a nearby family member, check to see if they could help you. Even if someone can only come to your home one weekday, this could provide a break and allow you to work without interruptions. Your children can get their schoolwork done, and you could visit with your family at the end of the day.

Coordinate With School and Community Resources

Tell school administrators about your situation. Chances are that you are not the only parent who has to work and who wants the best for their children’s education. Explain to school administrators and community leaders what you need or what would help you. If enough parents speak up and explain their needs, leaders can act on those needs. Communities may offer some creative solutions, such as:

  • Schools delivering meals to families
  • Access to faster internet
  • In-home tutoring for children with disabilities
  • Home visits for counseling and healthcare services

At the Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco, we understand what you are going through. Our Hackensack divorce attorney can help you determine if a custody modification or another legal service could help you deal with the challenges of earning a living and managing your children’s education during the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional information or to schedule a consultation with our divorce attorney, call us at (201) 343-0078, email us at or request an appointment online.

Like the article? Please share