With schools closed around the country and most companies opting for remote work, keeping your kids engaged while you work can be a daunting experience. For many parents, it’s a healthy mix of chaos, family time, stress, fighting, and bargaining with their partner on who will take which shift so the other can get some work done.
Although it won’t be easy in this period, this can also be an amazing time to bond with your kids and get to know them better. Most importantly, go easy on yourself. There’s no doubt this time is impossibly difficult, so doing your best is the best decision for everyone.
Here a few ways to keep your children engaged while you work from home:
Create a schedule
I know you’re probably tired of hearing this but the truth is that kids do best when they have a structure, so creating a daily schedule will make it easier for them to stay focused as well as hopefully provide periods of productivity for you too.
Schedule your work-time to align with the activities you plan for them. You can plan your zoom meeting and calls at the same time with their screen time, that way they will be too engrossed in what they are watching to disturb your meeting.
Also be sure to schedule ‘in time’, in which you are part of their day as well, for example, 12 pm -1 pm can be board games or lunch break with mummy. Your children will have something to look forward to each day and the mental break will be good for you, especially when you are dealing with a stressful situation at work.
Take your lead from the teachers
Most schools have introduced virtual classes as a means to make up for the lost time. You can take a look at your child’s scheduled classes for the week, this will help in knowing when they will be in class and when to schedule other activities to keep them busy while you work.
You can create fun age-appropriate projects that will keep your kids engaged and entertained. Go to YouTube to check for age-appropriate DIY videos for your kids. An example can be building a city with cardboard boxes, pillows and blankets, and so on. Toymaking, art, and craft, or even painting projects. The good thing about this is that it not only keeps your kids busy, it helps in stimulating their minds, enhancing their motor skills and creativity.
If you can, plan the night before
Some days, you may just want to go to bed after a long day. That’s normal and perfectly fine. But if you can, try to plan the next day’s itinerary before you sleep. This is very important especially if you have an early morning meeting the next day. It’ll ensure your kids are happy and occupied, and not throwing a tantrum during that video conference with your CEO.
Spend time outside, if you can
If you live in a house with a big garden or backyard, allow your kids to go out and play. Vitamin D is great for our overall health, and going outside even for a few minutes each day gives children the space they need to roam. If your kids aren’t up to the age where they can play without supervision, you can take your laptop outside so you can keep a watchful eye on them.
Write letters to teachers, friends or grandparents
You can keep your kids busy by channeling your son or daughter’s creativity toward letter writing or picture drawing. Let them write a letter to their friends in school or to their teacher or even to their grandparents while you get some work done. Not only will your child learn a lesson in compassion, but your relative will also receive a nice surprise to lift their spirits.
Assign ‘work’ to your kids
For the foreseeable future, when your kids ask you what you’re doing, you’ll likely say “working”. This word doesn’t always make sense to them, so a way to teach them is to assign tasks to them. Give them puzzles to finish, LEGO lands to build, separate the bean seeds from the shaft, arrange the throw pillows in the sitting room. You can set a timer for an hour so they can work and then ask them to prepare a presentation afterward to show off their work.
Most kids can operate tablets and phones from younger ages. Set your child up with some music (that isn’t too loud to disturb your work), show them how to make a video (if they don’t already know how), provide props or dress-up clothes and have them take dance videos (or other silly videos) that they can share with you.
Designate an area for your ‘home office’
It is important to have a designated area (preferably a spare room) that will enable you to organize your files, stay on task, and minimize interruptions. Let your kids also know that this is mummy’s work area and teach them not to come to the work area while you’re working. It is important to follow a schedule even while working so if you work 9 -5, try to keep it at that with short breaks in between to check on the kids.
Balancing children and a full-fledged workload is not a walk in the park, especially during this period. It’s okay to occasionally treat yourself now and then to your favorite meal or a movie for your efforts. Most importantly, enjoy the process as you get to spend more time with the people that mean the most to you!
Have any tips to keep your kids busy while you work from home? Feel free to share.