Working from home can be challenging, but then factor in current quarantine measures, school closures and the fact that your 9-to-5 now likely includes full-time childcare duties as well — these uncertain times are a whole new ballgame. Not to worry, we’ve asked some of our AIME members for a few helpful tips to learn how to work from home with kids.
Create a Schedule
It’s no secret that adjusting to working from home, on top of taking care of your children, can be challenging. One of the best ways to manage this is by creating an agenda for both you and your children to follow. It helps to model the day similarly to how your children would if they were going to school; even if it’s a rough timeline of how the day should go, it’s helpful to have a structured outline rather than going through the day blindly. Obviously, there’s still the possibility of mishaps and interruptions, but try your best to stick to the schedule and keep your children on track with their daily activities.
“We love this schedule! We also went out and got puzzles and new workbooks, and Google Class has online courses for little ones! And don’t let that mama guilt kill you if you have to sit them down in front of a movie to keep them quiet for a few hours. We are all doing our best and sanity is key!” – Ashley Miller, AIME Member
Keep Busy with Planned Activities
Keeping children cooped-up in one space all day long can easily and very quickly drive them insane. It’s helpful to leave room for activities — like playing a game in a different area of the house, watching television, or even adding small snack breaks — to keep them otherwise focused and easier to handle throughout the rest of the day. It’s also beneficial to incorporate some outdoor activities to help release some of their pent-up energy. Taking your children for a bike ride around the neighborhood or hosting a hula hoop competition can be great ways to keep them active.
“My kiddos are incredibly active outside so bike rides (are great); forcing them to do a puzzle or write a comic together; I have them help me with organizing old leads based on my notes; my daughter is practicing for a school play; my son, who’s obsessed with shoes, has been making everyone’s shoes look brand new. They have chores to do and I’ve asked their teachers for lesson plans for the time they’re out of school. Plus we own literally every board game known to man, have Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube TV so we’re surviving. They know when mom’s in the office the only way to get my attention is to pass me a note, creatively folded.” – Mary L. Mattingly, AIME Member
With schools closed and classrooms on hiatus or shifted online, it’s a difficult adjustment for most parents to know how to work from home with kids. It’s important to remember you are not expected to know everything and live up to the same expectations as their teachers. Try to utilize online learning as there are plenty of online applications that help children stay focused and keep them actively learning throughout the day.
“We’ve loaded up on puzzles, new books, art supplies, baking projects, etc. A few links that are saving our life right now:
- Mo Willems Art at Home episodes
- Scholastic Learn at Home
- Cosmic Kids Yoga
- Worksheets, coloring pages, art projects and more”
– Michelle Dugan, AIME Member
Let Them Enjoy Their Time Off
With the transition to remote learning and the loss of roughly eight hours of child care that school previously provided every day, parenting has become an all-day, every-day kind of job. It’s helpful to let your kids partake in activities they can enjoy — like outdoor activities or playing games — therefore giving you more time to accomplish everything you need to within the day. After all, it is technically their spring break vacation (now or soon), so let your children have some fun while they can!
“Just embrace your children. Embrace the noise. Get noise cancelling headphones if necessary and do whatever it takes.” – Cutberto Hernandez, AIME member
“The big boys are not having a hard time with it at all, they rotate between playing in the yard, reading books, playing video or board games, chores or organizing their playroom, craft projects, movies. This is their spring break so I’m not pushing homeschooling at this point.” – Jessica Ehler, AIME Member
Ask for Help
It’s understandable that asking for help can sometimes be difficult, but with adjusting to a new schedule it can be more helpful than you think. You can reach out to other parents in your neighborhood or through social media who are also working from home. They might be able to provide you with useful techniques and advice to better navigate this process and offer you support.
“I am still in the office working crazy hours but I am very lucky that my husband and my mom have picked up the slack at home and can take care of the kids and home life!” – Skylar Welch, AIME Member
When working with your spouse, partner or anyone else who is helping to care for your children, it’s helpful to consistently communicate what your day is looking like so you’re all on the same page with your expectations and needs. For example, if you’re under a pressing deadline and need to focus, let them know so they can play with the children outside for a while and keep them occupied. If you have a lighter workload with more flexibility, offer to occupy the children for an hour and help prepare lunch for them so your partner can have a break. If you’re keeping up with communication and establishing a schedule, it’ll add a better understanding and structure to your day.
“My son George is 2 and my daughter Helen is 8 months old. They are typically in daycare all day. My wife Jenn works full time but we’ve been lucky in that her employer has been extremely understanding. She is spending the day watching them and catching up for an hour or two over email at night. I pop up for visits and help at nap time. I shut it down at 4pm each day until bedtime at 7pm and then get back to work.” – Brendan McKay, AIME member
“My parents are nearby and have my daughter during the day. My husband, who also works in the mortgage industry, is coming home on time every night but bringing work home with him just so that one of us is physically at home with our little one. I handle mornings, get her ready, drop her off, get a little one-on-one time with her and he takes evenings. I get home in time for bedtime tuck-in. All I can say is that it truly does take a village and I am AWFULLY grateful for mine right about now.” – Jamie Cavanaugh, AIME Member
For many parents, it’s a difficult time and with the stress of a million things added to to-do lists, along with learning how to work from home with kids. If you’re continually testing out new at-home strategies and tweaking your routine to better fit your family’s day to day needs, you’re bound to develop a daily flow that works best for your household. It’s all a balancing act, so give yourself the freedom to utilize what works and ditch what doesn’t — and remember to cut yourself some slack! After all, we are all just doing our best.
Connect with more AIME members in our Brokers Are Better Facebook group.