by Maurie Backman | April 1, 2020
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Juggling work and childcare is no easy feat. Here are some tips for pulling it off.
Many of us aren't strangers to working from home. Even if you don't do it regularly, technology makes it fairly easy to manage a full day of work remotely if you have a sick child, are sick yourself, or need to be home to sign for a delivery or let in a repair person.
But right now, because of the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Americans have been forced into a situation where they're not just working remotely -- they're working from home while their kids are home, too. With schools closed nationwide, parents without childcare now have no choice but to juggle in a dramatic way. If you're stuck working from home with kids, here are some tips that will help you maintain your productivity -- and your sanity.
When you're trying to get a lot done in a relatively small amount of time, getting organized is crucial. Every night, map out a schedule for the following day that ensures that your most pressing tasks are met, whether they include attending a meeting with your boss, submitting a report for a deadline, or having your child get online at a certain time for a virtual math session.
With jobs and incomes getting cut left and right and economic uncertainty abounding, now's probably not the time to spend money on things you don't truly need. But if you have a comfortable amount of savings in your bank account, a modest investment could make for hours of entertainment for your children, freeing up valuable time for you to do your job. Go online and order your children items like art supplies, crafting kits, board games they can play together, or complex puzzles. Sure, you probably have a lot of these things already, but the novelty of a recently procured assortment should hold your kids' attention for a week or so, at which point you can order new supplies if it's within your budget.
If you're a single parent, you're unfortunately on your own when it comes to tackling work and childcare simultaneously. But if you live with someone else, figure out how to split that load so that both of you sacrifice some work hours, but get uninterrupted work time in return. For example, if your spouse typically spends his or her entire Monday in meetings, take a hit work-wise that day, then let your spouse take the bulk of the childcare duty on Tuesday so you can compensate.
Some parents are vehemently against screen time for their kids. Others are willing to let their children play video games or watch TV in moderation. If you're the type who's okay with some amount of screen time, use it to your advantage. Let your kids watch something for an hour so you can hop on an important conference call without distractions, or grant an additional 30 minutes of video game–playing so you can edit a presentation carefully. If you make it clear to your children that they're getting extra leeway because of the situation at hand, they probably won't be shocked when you revert to your regular household rules once things normalize.
Keeping up with work while your kids are stuck home with you is not easy. While the above tips will hopefully help, remember to cut yourself some slack. Maybe this month won't be your time to shine on the job, and maybe you will need to ask your boss for leeway on some occasions. But given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis, the one thing you can and should expect is flexibility -- so give yourself some of that as well.
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