Dec 03, 2020
Schools across the country are once again considering closing and returning to remote learning. This is leaving an increasing number of parents, many of whom are working from home, feeling torn, guilty and downright exhausted. In fact, in a recent Catalyst survey, 54% of working parents felt guilty because they were caring for their families and not focused on work. However, 43% felt that same guilt because they were focused on their families rather than work. Some of these parents are considering reducing their work hours, going part-time or quitting their jobs to deal with the predicted return to remote learning.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a career or financial option for many parents. To help these parents, we’ve gathered some tips to help you juggle the competing responsibilities of working from home and remote learning.
Create a weekly schedule and post it for everyone to see. Review it every Sunday (or on whatever day works best for your entire family to have input). Consider also reviewing it together each morning. It will help your older children if they know to expect that you’ll be on a call or engaged in a meeting at a specific time and unavailable to them. It also helps to know when they have a test or an important presentation and need focus time. As a reminder, consider sticking a red Post- it on your door when you can’t be disturbed and change it out for a green one when you can.
Be sure to incorporate breaks in your daily routine and your schedule. Plan to go for a bike ride or have lunch together. Block these off in your weekly calendar in the same way you block off other meetings. The key here is to delineate your family and work time, so the two don’t become blurred and so that one doesn’t feel like it is overwhelming the other. Be sure to stick to your schedule.
Designated spaces help promote productivity. If you have the luxury of space, carve out separate office and school rooms. If not, create designated work areas for each—the dining room for schoolwork and a desk in a bedroom for office work. Even garages and basements can be turned into workspaces. Leverage natural light sources wherever possible to make spaces seem larger than they are and use bookcases or shelving to define each space.
Let your kids help choose and decorate their personal classrooms and fill them with the same kinds of school supplies they would find at school.
Be sure to get rid of the signs of school and office at the end of the day. It will help everyone physically and mentally disconnect from both.
While keeping work and family separate is a good idea and can help you all focus better, co-working with your children has its uses too. You can incorporate your child into your work if it makes sense to do. However, you can simply work together on separate things in the same space. This helps model focus and a strong work ethic for your children. It’s also a way to connect silently.
Have your children take on a family chore. Depending on the age of the children, this could mean doing laundry, cleaning or even cooking. You may have to take some time to teach them how to do these things, but it’s an excellent opportunity for them to learn a valuable life skill and relieve some of the stress for parents at the same time.
Encourage your older children to organize their schoolwork with colored folders or labels and provide them with an agenda they can use to keep track of their time and work.
We all know that less screen time is better, but these are not normal circumstances. Let go of your guilt about screen time. Try to find and encourage the use of educational programming and by all means, interfere if your child is spending too much time on social media. However, there is nothing wrong with leveraging devices or TV for those times when you need to focus or when your presence is required in a video meeting.
Balancing the demands of working from home and remote learning is possible.
However, everyone needs help once in a while. Consider creating a parent pod where you share parenting duties. Hire a nanny for days where you need time to focus or tap a family member to help out. There are also organizations and companies offering after school programs or intermittent daycare you can leverage when you have to get some work done. Some of these, like Children’s Learning Adventure, also offer help with homework and assistance with remote learning.