by Lily Lowder
May 15, 2020
Most parents would agree that juggling a full-time job and raising children is a balancing act. However, working a full-time job from home, while raising and teaching kids, during a global pandemic, isn’t just a balancing act. It’s juggling bowling balls with one hand tied behind your back in the midst of a thunderstorm.
Here are some tips on working from home, courtesy of actual parents who are right there with you.
Divide & Conquer
Amy & Alan, parents to Luca: We have two offices set up at home – our actual designated office space we had prior to this and a new setup in the living room where all of Luca’s toys and the TV are. One of us takes the morning in the office while the other is in the living room with the kiddo. Then we switch after nap time, which is about mid-day.
Between focused time in the office, the little work we’re able to do while watching him, and more work after bed time, we get it done. It makes for long days sometimes but we are lucky to have flexible employers (shout out to CP&Y) and are able to make it work.
I know we all want to limit TV time for our kiddos, but don’t beat yourself up about it. It helps when we have conflicting conference calls or on rainy days when going outside isn’t an option. We also provide him his own mouse and keyboard and he sits with us so he can “work” with us. It makes him feel connected to us and included in what we are doing.
Hannah & Jon, parents to Connor: Jon and I (and Connor) are grateful for three hours of solid nap time a day. Jon and I have been taking shifts taking care of Connor and working. We do strategic handoffs for important calls. We both have gotten better at negotiating whose meetings are more important and which are doable with an extra set of ears (and mute).
"Keep a Routine"
Maribel & Jody, parents to a 16, 15, and 10-year old: We try to keep a routine.
- Kids get up at 7:30 a.m. and get dressed for school
- Eat hot breakfast (no tv or electronic devices)
- Get started by 8:15
- I read the agenda for the day & give general instructions for independent work
- Check back every 15 – 20 minutes
- Kids hold (write down) questions till I return
- Provide incentives for finished work (extra play, extra snacks, pick lunch menu, bake quick brownies after lunch, make popcorn at break, iPhone time after school for older kids, play together at 3:30 p.m. – soccer, swim, basketball, bike ride etc.)
- Snack break from 10:00 – 10:15 a.m.
- Remind them they can be done by noon if they focus
- Lunch from 12 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.; I also clean-up & plan dinner
Since my husband continues to work on-site, I have to find time to do my work around the kids’ schedule. Sometimes I start at 4 a.m.; other times it’s from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. – whatever it takes. If I start to feel overwhelmed, I focus on getting better sleep and figuring it out from there.
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
Allie & Nick, parents to Philippa: If we are on the ball, we can get a couple hours of solid work in before our 3-year old wakes up around 8:30 a.m. Nick takes Philippa for outdoor time in the morning. At noon, I relieve him and take my shift with the kiddo. Sometimes we get crafty (thanks, Pinterest!). Sometimes I try to incorporate a little learning into chores. (I highly recommend Teaching Strategies. They have ideas on how to make laundry educational!)
While working from home with a toddler, I have learned how critical it is to prioritize. I took a shot at time blocking to help, and while I can’t keep it up perfectly, it does force me at the end of every day to catalogue what I got to (or didn’t) and if I can scoot things to the next day.
We hope that these tips will help you with balancing working from home while raising your children – or at least remind you that you’re not alone. And don’t forget to record your telecommutes on Alamo Commutes through May 31; you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card!