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Working from home with children during corona virus isolation

March 21st, 2020
Chrissie
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Working from home with children during corona virus isolation
As Covid 19 (coronavirus) spreads across the world and more and more countries ‘lockdown’, many people are being forced to work from home – which doesn’t sound so bad- unless they are parents! Thousands of schools and nurseries have closed so teenagers, children and toddlers are at home too- what a challenge!

Juggling work and children has never been easy and that was when schools were open, but now that thousands of schools and nurseries are in lockdown because of coronavirus and many people are now working remotely, it has become the finest of juggling acts!

Discuss what is feasibly possible with your boss

The first step to success in this difficult situation is to discuss things with your boss. Be realistic because working from home is not easy and there is no way you will enjoy a straight eight hour shift. There will be interruptions! Explain this to your boss and get them to introduce some flexibility as after all, you can still work well, but in work segments giving your children time too.

The bottom line is whether you have long worked from home or whether this is a new experience, with children to care for it is a whole new ‘ball game’.

Prioritise

Before you start, you need to think things through and prioritise. If you are juggling work from home and caring for your children at home then relax and don’t worry about the housework or the easily prepared meals so much.

Create a work space

Anywhere in your home that has good internet access will work, but in reality a quiet room or corner that has a distinct barrier like a door gives the message that you are at work. This will be especially important if you need peace to make business phone calls or join conference calls.

It is important that children know when they can and cannot interrupt you and this can be conveyed by red and green signs to put on the door or thumbs up and thumbs down signs that are easy for age children to understand.

Plan your work day

If you have older children, discuss things with them. Explain to them that you are working from home because of coronavirus and ensure that they understand why their schools had to close. They must understand your work commitments too and they will have schoolwork to complete, so discuss their schedule for the day too – and be interested. Regular stops for a hot drink, snack and downtime together is valuable.

If you have younger children, this will be challenging and you will probably need a hand from ‘virtual babysitters’ these can be grandparents and other relatives and friends. Basically, they entertain your child for an hour online with songs, games and the all-important story time. This can work really well, you just need to be well organised if you need any kit for the activities.

Set boundaries

Divide your work into chunks so that you can spend with your children. Explain to them your timetable and that it is perfectly OK for them to watch a little more children’s TV than usual, but there is a reason for this. Regularly take a break and spend time with them and reward them for good behaviour. At the end of the day, take a walk with them or go out into the garden to play together so that they can ‘let off steam’ and enjoy having you to themselves.

If you have a young baby or toddler, your work pattern will be around their sleep pattern as they will not be able to entertain themselves so easily.

Create some activity boxes

These are great for children of all ages. Pack a shoe box with a variety of puzzles, quizzes and clever craft ideas (downloaded from the internet) plus all the items needed and present these to your children, saying they have one hour to complete their work – don’t be tempted to make it longer as children can lose interest, Set the egg timer and they can get to work and so can you!

Organise shift work

If your partner is also working from home, divide the day between you and whilst one of you has quality work time, the other can be with the children. True, this will require top- up time from you both, either in the evening when your children are asleep or early in the morning. This system works well and gives you both quality work and parenting time, after all this is a wonderful chance for bonding.

Strengthen community bonds

Even if you are working, it is important to keep community bonds strong otherwise you can begin to feel isolated. Telephone elderly neighbours regularly to check that they are OK and join your friends online for your usual yoga session and yes, your children can join in for fun too!

The important point to remember is that although we are in uncharted territory it will not last forever and these unplanned hours with your children will be ones that will be remembered in years to come...

Chrissie x

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