Working at home with kids

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With the spread of COVID-19, closure of schools and the rise of teleworking from home…parents everywhere are all asking themselves the same question, “How do we do it all?”

To help with this adjustment many families are now facing, we consulted members of our team who have experience in this area–full-time work-from-home Moms. They have compiled the following tips and resources.

Tips

Embrace the Chaos. Let’s get this out of the way. “How do we do it all?” can be answered rather simply…you don’t. You cannot be super-parent AND employee of the month. You will not be as productive. Your house will not be clean. You will serve chicken-nuggets and carrot sticks for dinner more often than you’d like. Something has to give. Sometimes that something is a little bit of everything. But here’s the secret… It’s enough. You are enough. You have everything you need to make this work. This messy, chaotic adventure is the new normal for families everywhere. We are in this together.    

Communicate. With your employer, your children, and your spouse (if applicable). Discuss with your employer adjusted expectations and priorities. Your productivity WILL BE IMPACTED. You may need more time to accomplish projects. Have a conversation with your child that clearly and concisely lays out their responsibilities during this time. Can you “divide and conquer” with your partner? Make sure to manage expectations and share equal parts of the workload. Remember, you are not the only one trying to figure this out. Communicate your struggles and concerns with all parties. It’s going to take some time for everyone to adjust.      

Schedule. It can be helpful to have some basis of a consistent schedule, but you may need to be creative about it. If possible, schedule your “work hours” in 1-2 hour chunks. A couple of hours before the kids wake. A few hours during nap time. Finish up after the kids have gone to bed. The key here is to be flexible, but intentional. Things may change from day to day but making an effort to set aside specific hours for specific tasks can be helpful in preventing a total descent into madness.

Go outside. At least 30 minutes, every day. Take your laptop in the backyard. Even if it’s chilly, bundle up. Fresh air is a great reset.

Play… then Work? It may seem intuitive to tell a child begging for a hand of Uno that you’d “love to, as soon as I’m done with work”. Work before play, right? However, kids are persistent creatures and chances are they will find reasons to interrupt your work continuously until you either give in or lose your temper. You will be amazed to find that if you give 20 minutes of intentional, quality time to your child – it can buy you up to an hour of uninterrupted work time.    

Screens. The amount of time your child(ren) will spend on screens will increase. We’re all going to be increasing our screen time in the coming months. When you can, opt for educational and interactive digital experiences. We’ve included some of our favorites in the resources below. See our “education” tab for even more. Implement “reward systems” for other types of media; 30 minutes on an educational website for 30 minutes of fun, extra chores buy you 30 minutes of video games, etc. But when it comes down to it, sometimes you just need an hour of quiet. Don’t feel guilty about putting on SpongeBob so you can get through that conference call.

YOU DO YOU. Above all, do what works for your family. These are ideas and suggestions that have worked for some. It may look completely different for you. It will definitely take some trial and error to find your groove. No matter how much you practice or plan, there will always be bad days. Be quick to forgive… yourself and your family. Let it go and try again tomorrow.

Resources

Lists of “resources for kids” are a dime a dozen on the interwebs right now so we highlighted local adventures and some of our tried-&-true favorites.   

Local Experiences

  • Learn Magic with Daniel Jaspersen: Local Cheyenne Magician/Mentalist shares some of his closely guarded secrets. Ages 5+
  • Story Time: Missing story time with your favorite librarian? Check your local libraries website and social media pages, you might catch some familiar faces reading some of their favorite stories. This link takes you to Laramie County Library’s YouTube page. PreK-12
  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West: The website for Cody, Wyoming’s Museum offers a goldmine of online“ standards-driven programming, educational resources, and memorable Wild West experiences.” Don’t miss out on their “Skype in the Classroom”, “Teacher Resources” and, “Games & Interactives” K-12
  • Touch Tone Tales – Wild and wacky original stories from Charlie Williams, “The Noiseguy!” Call 307-638-2552 any time of day or night to hear a funny story. Story changes weekly and are especially enjoyable for children ages 4 and older.

Tried-&-True Favorites

  • PBS KIDS: The nonprofit media enterprise offers a variety of “curriculum-based entertainment with positive role models and content designed to nurture a child’s total well-being.” Access fun games or find episodes of  your favorite shows on the website. You can even live stream programming from their free app! 
  • Smithsonian Institution: Fun stuff for kids and teens! Take a virtual visit to their National Zoo, explore the weather lab, view “art meets science” collections, play fun games and much, much more. 
  • Dav Pilkey at Home: Author of the beloved series, “Captain Underpants“ has teamed up with Scholastic and the Library of Congress and will launch a short video of Dav “drawing, reading aloud, and following his mantra—Always Be Creative!” Check the link here and on the Library of Congress social media channels for the latest video.
  • LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems! “Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLE. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually” All episodes available to be streamed afterwards.