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April 15, 2020

Working During Quarantine..With Kids

QUARANTINE. LOCK DOWN. STAY-AT-HOME ORDER. A SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH. Call it what you will, but we’re all in this together until  the day we die at least April 29th, so learning how to work from home alongside our kids without throwing them (or ourselves) out of a window is crucial.  I know we all love our curtain climbers and would do anything for them, but when they bust out a recorder in the middle of your Zoom call, you need to find a solution fast (or just toss the one needs to know). Now that at least 124,000 public and private schools have closed their doors in the United States,  55.1 million students are expected to be homeschooled. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Seriously, how is anyone supposed to handle kids+work+homeschool+quarantine?! Here are 6  drinks tips to keep you sane over the next 2-8 weeks (I’d make it 10, but that requires concentration and motivation - both of which are in short supply). 

  • Not A Planner? You Are Now. A little planning goes a long way if you want to be productive while also being present for your kids. You might lay out your kid’s clothes, but what about your own? Picking outfits in advance equals one less decision you’re expected to make in the morning (plus your kid won’t be prancing around half naked during your Google Meet). The mornings are also a lot easier if you pre-plan breakfast instead of begging them to choose between toaster strudels, fruit loops or “whatever you can find.” While you’re at it, pre-plan your lunches and dinners at the beginning of the week and make good use of your instant pot. It’s also a good idea to plan breaks throughout the day to cut down on screen time for both of you (11-1 is lunch and “family walk” time, for example). Or just watch Tiger King, it’s whatever.  If you aren’t currently using calendars, homeschool planners, chore charts and reminder lists, you might want to change your ways; seriously, it can make life at home so much easier when you’re all on the same page at the beginning of each day. 
  • Have A Schedule And Stick To It. Schedules are massively helpful when you’re working from home with kids, regardless of their ages. For older kids, make sure they get up at the same time they would for school (which is typically before your work day would start anyway). The most important thing is that both of you have clearly defined work hours, so if you have to post them on the door to your home office, then do it. For middle and high school students, lock your office door and tell them that no matter what happens, they have to wait for your scheduled breaks and not interrupt. I’ve even heard of some people using a spiral notebook as an “Ask Me Later” book, so that thoughts and questions can be addressed after work time is over. Unfortunately, younger children will require a lot more hands-on time and it’s important to work your schedule around their needs and naps, so....thoughts and prayers!
  • Self-Care. I’m not talking about the kind of “self-care” we engaged in before quarantine, like mani/pedis and massages. Nope, self-care just means getting an adequate amount of sleep and occasionally changing out of those sweatpants you’ve been wearing for the last four weeks. I’ve always worked from home (not with homeschooled kids, this is a fresh kind of hell), but getting up and getting dressed as if I’m going into the office has always helped my productivity level. Yes, this includes doing my hair and sometimes make-up and pretending that someone’s besides the fam is going to see me that day. Make sure your kids are taking showers, brushing their teeth, and getting ready as if it’s a regular school day as well. If you feel the need to enjoy a midday “depression bath” at 2 pm, ain’t no shame. We’re all doing it. 
  • Be Flexible, But Not Like The Yoga Kind. Unlike our pre-home confinement work hours, when we showed up around 8 and worked until 5, we’re all going to have to organize our work time around our children’s needs. In other words, don’t participate in an important conference call at a time when there’s going to be a higher level of distraction. If your kid is learning online, wait until after their assignments are completed on Google Classroom so they’re not asking you for help with that common core mess when you’re on a call. If you share parenting responsibilities with a partner, take a look at your schedules and divide and conquer. If you have to work before they wake up or after they go to sleep, so be it. We’re all just trying to maintain. 
  • Keep Them Busy. If you’re still worried about the amount of screen time your child is having, then bless your heart, you’re a better person than me. I’m notsuggestingthat you give your child an electronic device that’ll keep them busy throughout the length of your conference call, I’m literally telling you to do it. Oh, Karen thinks you’re a bad mom because your kid has binge watched three hours of Paw Patrol? She’s on her fourth quarantini of the day and it’s not even 12 pm, so she can mind her own parenthood. Houses during quarantine are like Vegas; what happens there, stays there. 

Seriously, It’s Not The End Of The World.The other day we lost power for 24 hours thanks to a storm and neither one of my kids could complete their daily assignments because the internet was out. Not only that, but we literally lost all of the food in our fridge and freezer. Sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned them to go, but if your kid doesn’t complete something on time or doesn’t understand it, it’s okay. If you weren’t as productive as you hoped you’d be, join the club. Quarantine life is an adjustment for everyone, so if you don’t feel like you’re spending enough quality time with your kids, you’re NOT ALONE! We’re all going to need therapy by the end of this.