I’m a manager at a large company and a mom. Do you have advice on how I can manage my team from home while also managing my kids’ distance learning?
I can certainly relate with many parents in this situation that balancing work and home life is often a struggle. And if your role at work requires daily team and client meetings, along with managing virtual learning — well, let’s just say it’s not easy, especially for parents with young kids.
And, it’s even more challenging because socialization with their friends is extremely important and impactful, while also helping our kids remain engaged in their studies. Maintaining that enthusiasm via Zoom and other virtual platforms is consistently tough, especially when our kids don’t know when they will see their classmates again.
But fellow moms and dads — we are not alone! We see in the news and social media every day many stories chronicling the challenges of remote working while also caring for our kids.
As we continue to wait for the safe reopening of schools, and the return of before- and after-school care, here are some tips I have found helpful the last several months.
For Parents Working from Home
Treat yourself the same way you would treat the person you love most. I make a point to get enough sleep while also maintaining a regular eating schedule. And, I set aside time to take a workday “time out” to rejuvenate my mind and body. Maintaining balance is key — if I’m exhausted, neither my family nor my work team wins.
Prioritize your day and tackle the most important items first. I save those tasks not requiring intense focus for the times of the day when my kids tend to need more help with school.
Set boundaries. For example, my kids know that I’m on a virtual conference call if my home office door is closed. They also know that as soon as my door opens, they can ask for help.
Recognize that productivity doesn’t mean eight continuous hours of work. Interruptions can and will happen — it’s OK to adjust on the fly.
Set up a snack and drink station. This has been life-changing in my house. I set out an assortment of healthy snacks and water first thing in the morning in an area close to where my kids sit for school. I replenish the station at lunch.
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Set a schedule. Most kids virtually learn best with a regular schedule. The night before, I review our family schedule with my kids so that they know what to expect the next day.
Embrace free time. Incorporate an activity of your child’s choosing into their day to give them (and you) a break. Reading a book and coloring or crafts work well for my kids.
Establish virtual learning rules. My family has virtual learning rules that we have posted near their school area. My kids know and understand what the consequences are if they don’t follow the rules.
Share positive feedback. I find at least one thing to compliment each of my kids every day. For example, if my son needs minimal help with a worksheet, I give him a gold star sticker. My daughter prefers a hug if she does well on an assignment.
Get up and moving. It’s hard for all of us to sit and focus for hours on end. I make sure that my kids go outside and play during recess and part of lunch — it helps us all have a productive afternoon.
Jessica Word is president of Word & Brown General Agency. Established in 1985 and headquartered in Orange, Word & Brown is one the state’s largest general insurance agencies. She is also a mom to two kids, a kindergartener and first-grader, who are distance learning at home.
(Opening photo courtesy of Magnet.me/Unsplash.com)