How to survive working from home with kids

There is absolutely no doubt that 2020 has been a really challenging year for many people. While some have suffered the loss of loved ones, others have lost their jobs. Some people have experienced a decline in their mental health and most of us have felt the impact of not being able to see the people who are most important to us. There have however been some fabulous stories of human kindness and compassion. We’ve also experienced new-found innovation in terms of the way we all live and work.

One of the new challenges that many families are having to overcome is the need to work from home with their children. Whether this is due to periods of self-isolation or due to whole school and nursery closures as a result of low staffing numbers the impact is still the same. We have approached a number of parents who have faced this challenge and asked them to share any tips and advice that might help others. Keep reading to see what they came up with.

Tips and advice from other parents:

  1. Lower your expectations completely. It is highly likely that you are not going to achieve what you normally would during this period and that’s ok. Forgive yourself if you don’t clean the house, miss a dog walk or you drop the ball at work. These are unprecedented times!
  2. Remember that a child’s home is their home, their security, their safe place. Do what you can with homework, but remember, it’s still home – not school. Safety, security, warmth and happiness comes before any spelling tests.
  3. I found myself feeling guilty for struggling when I had the good fortune to be working when others have lost their jobs in the pandemic. I had to learn to let that go and give myself permission to stop feeling guilty.
  4. Go for a walk and take some time out. If you have a partner at home who can look after the kids for half an hour, do it by yourself, put your music on loud and enjoy the fresh air.
  5. Don’t try to struggle on through at work. Talk to your boss and try to move any deadlines and projects that you are able to. This won’t be possible for everything but any pressure you can relieve yourself of will help.
  6. I found myself getting angry about the expectations on working parents to be full time teachers. I contacted the school to get clearer expectations on what was needed and some reassurance.
  7. Don’t feel guilty if schoolwork doesn’t get done. I have totally beaten myself up over this, but every child has missed a few days of school for some reason. An hour on the PlayStation won’t hurt.
  8. Dens, ball pools and snacks worked well when trying to keep a really young child occupied for periods of time.
  9. Break up your day. You might have to start work a little earlier and finish a little later but take ‘play breaks’ at set times with the kids during the day.
  10. Ask for help and if you have someone else at home, agree how you’re going to split your time. We had some huge rows until we came up with an agreement about who would be ‘on duty’ with the kids and who was going to have uninterrupted time to work.
  11. It’s ok to hide in the bathroom and have a little cry. Some days I felt like I was going to burst trying to work, home school and manage a house. I found having a moment when I gave into it all just gave me the strength to go again.

The most important thing is to go easy on yourself and know that you will survive this and get to the other side. You’ve got this!

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