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Solutions for Working at Home With Kids

The spread of coronavirus has forced offices, schools and day care facilities to close across the country, leaving many parents to manage work, school and child care at home. According to a recent Gallup poll, 62 percent of employed Americans say they have worked from home during the crisis, a number that has doubled since mid-March.

With many schools not fully reopening for the upcoming school year, parents must continue to find solutions for the competing demands of working from home with children. We’ve compiled the following expert suggestions to help parents tackle the challenge.

Three key steps

In her Harvard Business Review Guide for Working (at Home) Parents, Modern Village founder and CEO Avni Patel Thompson says there are three key steps parents should take to successfully manage working from home with kids:

  1. Maintain routines. Try to stick to a regular routine of breakfast, lunch, dinner, playtime, school and bedtime at the same times each day. Routines prevent each day from becoming a free-for-all, and the consistency will provide structure for developing a schedule.
  2. Create modified schedules. Plan a weekly schedule that includes blocks of time for work, meals, chores and child care. To make these blocks work, Thompson suggests:
    • Partner swaps: One partner takes a shift working while the other takes on child care
    • Short shifts: 30-minute to two-hour shifts that rotate among adults in the household
    • Video shifts: Virtual playdates or calls with grandparents to entertain kids while you work
  3. Swap in new ways to do old things. Consider virtual playdates, online athletic classes and sharing resources like meals, babysitting and lesson plans with other parents in your neighborhood.

More strategies for work-at-home parents

Prioritize. Productivity coach Ellen Faye recommends parents focus on their most important tasks and getting the essentials done. The rest will be there later, she says in the BBC article How to Work From Home With Your Kids During Coronavirus.

Schedule breaks. You will likely find that you are working early morning hours or late into the evening in order to fit everything in. When you’re planning your weekly schedule, make time for breaks so you don’t burn out.

Temper your expectations. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) stresses the importance of giving yourself some slack. Don’t criticize yourself if your kids are getting too much screen time or if things aren’t as perfect as you’d like.

Hire in-home help. If you have the means, in-home care services can help with child care, running errands, meal preparation and light housekeeping, and are flexible so they can work around your schedule.

For more information
To read more about working from home with kids, check out the following articles: