Four ways to work from home with kids
Welcome to our new temporary normals. Maybe, like me, you are at home with your children trying to juggle your own telework workload as well as managing your children. We’ve compiled a quick list of tips and tricks to help you manage this time.
First, a little about me. I first started teleworking when I transitioned from teaching high school to working at Michigan State. At that time, my twin boys were six months old. I worked this way for seven years, and learned a lot about how to manage working remotely as a single mom of young children, even during the summer. Here are some takeaways from my experience.
- Put your own oxygen mask on first.
This is a time of learning new ways of working and being together. Allow yourself time and space to transition. There are a lot of different resources flying around the internet and on social media. Everyone is brainstorming and it’s easy to feel as if the rest of the world is doing it better than you.
In order to take care of myself, I make sure I am creating a schedule for myself. I work best when I start the day with a little exercise or yoga, eat breakfast, take a shower and put on real clothes. I am a morning person, so I know that keeping my morning routine is important for my success. What helps you feel grounded will look different from mine. Know what those steps are for you and protect them. The bleed between work and home is different now, and we all need to find ways to keep a schedule that balances work and family time.
- The Schedule is Sacred.
There’s a reason every preschool and elementary school teacher has a daily schedule. Children thrive on the constraints of a schedule. It’s a self-regulation scaffold and it creates safety in times of trouble. Now that my boys are adolescents, we collaboratively constructed our daily schedule. They understand that I am working, too, and when and how to interrupt. They are also doing their own online work assigned by their teachers, so keeping a schedule similar to their school day is important for their success, too.
- But Don’t Get Attached.
That being said, schedules are great, but this is also a special opportunity to be together. If your family is like mine, our normal day-to-day is pretty packed. This has been a special opportunity to be together and engage in family time. I’ve been inspired by all the creative ideas for enriching activities we could do together. Depending on how the days are going, you may need to adjust the schedule and build in some time for family walks when the sun is shining. Taking screen breaks for children is important, especially when they are working online all day for school. Which leads me to our final tip:
- Find the Fun.
The highlight of this terrible time has been the incredible creativity of teachers and their willingness to share these ideas with the world through virtual professional networks. Here is a round-up of my favorite ideas.
- Check out the We Are Teachers blog for lots of fun ideas and activities to support learning at home during this time. Consider starting with these Hands On Activities for Families.
- Maybe, like me, you didn’t think ahead to make sure you had the proper ingredients to make slime, but during the “clean out the closet” phase of socially isolating you found a random bag of barbecue skewers. Head over to PBSKids.org and spin the wheel for ideas about what to make.
- One of my favorite ways to stop the walls from closing in is to explore virtual field trips.
Andrea Zellner joined Oakland Schools in January 2015 as a Tech Integration Specialist working with the School District of the City of Pontiac. In March 2017, she moved into the role of Literacy Consultant.