How to Juggle Childcare and Working From Home
With 75% of the largest school districts doing online-only teaching, many families are having to adjust to having kids and parents home full-time. This can make things tricky for parents who need to work from home while also caring for their children. Working from home with your kids will never be easy, but there are a few things you can do to reduce stress.
Create Food and Drink Stations
For most parents, one of the leading challenges is simply constantly getting interrupted with “I’m hungry” or “What’s for lunch?” Taking a little time to prepare snacks, meals, and even drinks in advance can help you focus on your work. This can be as detailed or as basic as you want it to be. Some parents just set a few dishes of chips, veggie sticks, or granola out for kids to grab when hungry. Others like to do batch cooking, dividing a week’s worth of lunches into Tupperware.
Discuss a Childcare Schedule With Your Co-Parent
If you have been handling all the childcare on your own, the pandemic is an ideal time to rethink your schedule. Those who have a co-parent need to sit down and have a frank discussion about childcare. Try to arrange a schedule that lets both parents get a reasonable amount of work done while also ensuring the children’s needs are met. Depending on your relationship with the co-parent, this can be a little tricky. It may be helpful to have a divorce lawyer or mediator who can assist with adjusting your schedule.
Make a Routine
For many kids, staying home from school makes it feel like every day is the weekend. Having your house be a free-for-all makes it far harder to get work done. Try to establish a daily schedule as soon as possible and stick with it. Even very young children can learn simple rules like, “Mommy can’t talk to you until the clock says 2:00.” Keep in mind that a schedule doesn’t mean you have to plan every activity for your child. Children thrive from the chance to be independent. Setting up free time where your kids can play quietly in your room gives them the opportunity to grow while making it easier for you to work.
Create Realistic Expectations
Many families are under intense amounts of stress now because they are trying to live up to the idea of being a super-parent. It is important to recognize that this unprecedented pandemic is putting unusual amounts of strain on your family. It may be impossible to get all of your work done, provide your children with eight hours of enriching education, and still make time for date nights with a partner. Being able to accept that everything will not be perfect can keep you from stressing out about trying to obtain impossible goals. You will need to accept that you may get into tiffs with your children and partner, and everything might not get done around the house immediately. By being gentle with yourself and your family, you can better weather the stress of the pandemic.
Set Aside Blocks of Time to Focus on Work
Many parents who are working from home during COVID tend to try multitasking. However, several studies have shown that this decreases efficiency. Try to make sure you have at least 30 minutes of time to work uninterrupted. You may find that you actually get more done when you can focus instead of stopping every 30 minutes to play or check schoolwork. To create periods of uninterrupted time, consider setting up a rule that your children can’t interrupt while you are in the office or at your workspace. With infants and toddlers, these sorts of rules might not be possible yet. However, most younger children should still sleep several hours of the day. Many parents find it possible to get their best work done while their child sleeps.
During this time of social isolation, communication is more important than ever. Parents who are working from home with kids often let communication lapse. However, you need to make time to talk with your children, co-parents, family members, and friends. Maintaining strong social bonds can give you the emotional support needed to get through a tough time. By clearly discussing the challenges and needs your family faces, you can brainstorm better ways of handling them.
Stay on Top of Schoolwork
In general, doing school while working from home is one of the hardest parts of having kids at home during the day. Many parents try to address this by being relaxed and just letting their kids work whenever. However, if your child is putting off schoolwork for days, you may want to intervene. Educational research has shown that kids are able to better retain information when there are not huge gaps in their learning time. A few minutes spent on math each day tends to be better than doing hours of math once a week. Remembering to get school done each day will help to avoid a panicked, confused child needing help on an assignment while you are rushing to finish up important work.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Many parents try to handle everything by themselves because they think that is their job as parents. However, the reality is that it often takes a village to raise a child. You may want to talk to grandparents or other relatives to see if they can help with childcare. Remember that child support can be used for childcare, so you may want to consider hiring someone to watch the kids while you work. If you have the funds, there are plenty of people interested in part-time nannying right now. There are also online tutoring programs that can give your child focused, one-on-one attention while you work. If you cannot afford this sort of help, you may want to check to see if you are eligible for any government grants or charitable support.
Just like food and drink stations, activity stations can be a great way to keep your kids entertained while you focus on work. Lay out entertaining, mess-free crafts like beads and string, pencils and paper, or blocks. Avoid telling your children to specifically play with it since they are likely to ignore it. Instead, just let them discover and enjoy the activities on their own. This can be a great way to encourage independent play while you work. A little prep work each morning can lead to more time for you to focus on your career.
Working from home can put a lot of strain on a family. The Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco is always here to help Hackensack families in need. You can consult with a divorce lawyer and get advice on everything from child support to college expense planning. Our goal is to provide sympathetic and knowledgeable support during this challenging time. To schedule your consultation, call (201) 343-0078 or fill out our online contact form today.