As school districts across the nation closed last week, thousands of working parents were suddenly faced with an unanticipated dilemma: How to continue working while their kids are at home. Being a single parent of two, I, like so many others, held my breath as school after school made the announcement. Once it was confirmed that my kids’ school would be among those closing until a “to be determined” date, a low level of panic started to set in.
The working from home part I can handle — I’ve done it countless times over my 12-plus-year tenure with Epson. But working from home, with my kids schooling at home, during a global pandemic that is mandating social distancing and, for some, “sheltering in place”…well…that introduces an entirely new set of challenges.
With our Epson XP-620 printer at the ready on our home’s wireless network, and a Chromebook — or in my case a work laptop — on each of our desks (in separate rooms even), I realize we might be better equipped than some families to handle the logistical and physical challenges of working from home, and I’m grateful.
But what I hadn’t anticipated was the mental toll it would have — on all of us. The excitement my kids felt upon first learning that school was canceled quickly dissipated when they learned that it would continue at home.
The school and staff have worked diligently to post live teaching videos via Google Classroom and daily assignments with actual due dates. Parents have been provided links to worksheets and presentations and instructed to download the educational apps and various other tools required for schoolwork completion.
Though much consideration has been given to the working parent, there is still an underlying expectation for us to be at least partially involved with the ongoing education of our kids while they are sequestered at home. We’re only a week in, and I now know every little detail of my kids’ school day where, before, I only had a vague idea of what they were learning.
And then there’s my professional workload to juggle — Zoom meetings to attend, deadlines to meet, remote collaboration to coordinate — all while keeping my kids on task. Seriously, I don’t think I ever appreciated the freedom in dropping my kids off at school and going to work in the mornings until now.
Needless to say, adaptability and patience are lessons we’re all going to need to learn at least for the foreseeable future. Here are 10 additional tips Human Resources shares from Rethink Benefits for managing this time as a working parent at home.
- Create predictability to your child’s day by arranging a general daily structure. Having a schedule or routine can help create family expectations, lessen stress, build independence and save everyone time.
- Use picture schedules or written checklists to help your child know what activities will occur and when. Pairing a verbal instruction with a picture can better communicate the routine. For examples of daily schedules, check out this leisure activities schedule.
- Integrate choice and allow your child to make the schedule. Alternatively, pick the order of (a few) events to increase your child’s sense of control and often helps reduce behavior challenges.
- Maintain skills by scheduling time for academics in the daily schedule. Download this visual schedule to help plan out academics and subjects for your child.
- Provide structured breaks in your child’s daily schedule to give an outlet for energy or to recharge with relaxation routines.
- Add in structured windows of free play (e.g., create a visual choice board or checklist of available free play choices such as screens, electronics, games, toys, etc.) Pro Tip: string several preferred activities together to increase your child’s independence in leisure activities and decrease the need for you to help them “find something to do.”
- Help your child stay on task by setting clear expectations with a designated area for schoolwork and using visual supports such as a “keep working” visual in the area. These include visual schedules, token systems, timers, and more.
- When possible, maintain your regular nighttime and morning routines to ensure consistency.
- Take advantage of canceled school/extracurriculars/events to teach new skills. Examples include using an alarm clock, starting to shave, independent play. Set small, achievable goals.
- Use positive reinforcement to support the desirable behaviors you want to see at home. Examples include placing cotton balls in a jar for each positive behavior to be cashed in for a larger reinforcer; “caught you being good” coupons; and using “First…Then,” i.e., “First homework, then videogames.”
And a bonus tip: Hang in there!
© 2020 Epson America, Inc. This article was written by Laura Goglia, Epson Tech. Editor – ID&D. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.