Like many of you, last week I was thrust into working from home with very little notice. Ashley shared some great tips about staying productive while being at home, but what about when your children are suddenly homeschooled and work continues? And if your job is anything like mine, the frequency of conference calls (and video calls) has increased but the hours in the day haven’t. It is really easy to work far too many hours and not find a balance.
I’ve only made it through two weeks, which I know isn’t that long, but here are my tips on remaining productive at work while maintaining your sanity and the ability to enjoy school time with your children:
- If at all possible, create a schedule. My children and I completed that task together. We looked at the schedules that they follow in school and modified our new home schedule to incorporate lots of outside time, a little electronics time, chore time and short blocks where they can complete their classwork. At first, I thought it would be a challenge to keep them on a schedule, but I realized quickly that they enjoyed the structure and are more productive because of it. If you need a break from the schedule one day (or a bunch of days), it’s ok.
- Do your best to set up a workstation for your child(ren). Even if that is a spot at the kitchen table or taking an end table/coffee table to a corner with a chair. Children are used to having their desks in their classroom and having a little space set up for them where they can spread out their papers and be productive. One of my sons has a corner of my desk (right next to me) and the other one is next to dad at the dining room table.
- If they (or you) are starting to get stressed out, take a break. This situation is so different than any of us have ever experienced and we need to give ourselves a little grace. Just the other day, we dropped all assignments (work and school) and had a dance party in the hallway. It made the children happy and it greatly reduced my stress level. Take the opportunity to teach them something new (like doing laundry or mopping the floor).
- Bring some of the fun from the classroom home – have a PE class, watch a GoNoodle video, do a scavenger hunt, make some flashcards for a word or math challenge, read a book, facetime a friend or teacher and most of all HAVE FUN!
- Thank the people around us – Erin Potter, our Graphic Designer, illustrated some fun coloring sheets that your children (or you) can color and share with your mail carrier, grocery store worker or healthcare provider. You can download them here.
- And last, but not least…a Virtual Happy Hour can bring some good cheer after a long day of working, teaching and being in the house. Zoom (https://zoom.us/) offers 40 free minutes for video calls and that is just enough time to unwind with family members outside of your house, friends or coworkers after a long day. It is always fun to see other people and share some laughs.
Even though this time can be perceived as challenging, embrace the opportunity where you can to learn something new, connect with your friends and family in a new way and have some fun with your munchkins. Depending on their age, this will be a time that they remember for the rest of their lives. We get to spend quality time with those in our homes and having the right perspective about it makes a world of difference. The great quarantine of 2020 will probably be in history books for the next generation, so let’s make the most of it.