Whether you’ve been working from home with your children for years now or are just trying to make the best of 2020, these fresh ideas for staying sane and productive certainly won’t hurt.
I’ve been a work-from-home since 2015, when I started my online copywriting business.
At first, I worked only during my eldest daughter’s naptime, but as my business grew, I decided that sending her to preschool full time would be the right move for everyone. Now (during the pandemic none of us saw coming), neither of my kids are in school and my business requires about 35 hours per week of my time.
Fortunately, my husband and mother-in-law help out tons with caring for the kids while I work, but there are days when it’s my turn to multitask. During these challenging times of juggling childcare and client work, I have a few tricks to keep my family focused and happy.
Here are effective ways you can keep your school-aged kids busy too:
1. Layout their schoolwork at the start of the day
It’s safe to assume that your school-aged children at home during the work week are also doing distance learning. That’s the case for my family.
We find it incredibly helpful to layout my second grader’s day very clearly at the beginning of her school day. We login to Google Classroom and look at everything she’s supposed to do, and pull out all of the relevant papers and books for her. This way, she knows where everything is and doesn’t have to ask for help as often when she switches from one task to another.
2. Prep activities and snacks on the weekends (to stay sane midweek)
Undoubtedly, there will be moments where your child disrupts your work. To reduce these times, prepare activities and snacks ahead of time and set them out for that day.
Some families find that distance learning doesn’t take up as much time as a regular school day. Depending on your child’s age, they might finish their distance learning work at 1pm instead of 3pm. If they finish their work before you finish yours, it helps a lot to already have activities that are ready to go.
Even if their schoolwork takes longer than normal and isn’t finished until 5pm, it can still be helpful to set out fun activities to break up their day and keep them motivated.
Some ideas for activities include:
- Safe and simple holiday or seasonal crafts
- Help with cooking (preparing bread batter, for example)
- Puzzles and games
- Special toys that aren’t always accessible to your child
You can also prepare snacks ahead of time to reduce how frequently your child comes to you with questions.
Each day, let them know what their activity and snack is, where to find them, and at what time.
3. Allow strategic screen time
In our family, we don’t disavow all screen time. After all, how can I keep my kids from TV when I love it too? Our approach is to limit screen time and to allow it strategically.
For example, we don’t let our kids watch TV in the mornings. This demotivates children and makes it hard to get up and do what needs to be done the rest of the day.
Instead, we allow them to watch one or two shows at the end of their school day, so that we can keep working in the afternoon.
4. Enlist the help of friends and family for video calls
In 2017, we lived in Milan, Italy. On days my daughter’s preschool was closed (but I was working), video calls with the grandparents were a huge help.
Our parents would read stories to my eldest daughter so that I could have some time for client work. Now during the pandemic, video calls are more popular than ever.
All in all, here are things your friends and family can do to buy you some time with Zoom calls:
- Read stories to your child
- Ask your child to show them any new toys
- Help your child with their schoolwork and review problem subjects
- Ask your child to read them a story
- Have a dance party together
- Follow a children’s workout routine together
- Do a craft or art project simultaneously
5. Keep them active with daily exercises and chores
It’s also smart to keep your kids active while everyone is hanging out at home. This not only helps them stay healthy, it also gives them energy to their digital schoolwork and breaks up the day.
There are tons of children’s workout routines on YouTube Kids.
Rising Wild is another really cool option for kids’ fitness. The company offers an app and subscription box to keep your child active.
Depending on your child’s age, chores can be a great way to get exercise too. For example, a small cordless vacuum can be fun for kids to use. They could also be in charge of playing with your indoor cat or picking up books, clothes, and toys in the living room.
It’s a crazy time, and one that we all wish would be over soon. But it’s also a time to get more innovative and involved as a family.
Try these tips to be a little more productive and a lot more sane.
About the author
Dayana Mayfield is a work-from-home copywriter who works with the world’s top tech companies brands and a publicity coach for service providers who want to stand out online and grow their personal brands.