Updated: Sep 23, 2022
By Samantha Green, www.busykid.com
The Coronavirus posed a new challenge to parents around the country, and that is: to stay productive while working from home and taking care of their kids.
Juggling career and parental responsibilities within the same space is a struggle because kids need a lot of attention. And without access to babysitters and playdates, the job becomes a dozen times harder. Parenting is indeed a lot tougher these days, but these ideas might just help you strike a balance between home and work life during the pandemic.
Get them started on chores.
Little kids love being around adults and doing grown-up things, and that includes chores. There’s always something your children can do to help around the house, no matter how old they are. If you want to make things more interesting, you can set your children up with a kids’ debit card, where you can reward them for doing their assigned duties at home. It’s easier to assign chores to older children because they’re mostly capable of basic household tasks, but even toddlers can pitch in, too! Ask them to arrange their beds, organize their toys, or sort the laundry. You can use a chores app for kids to help you figure out age-appropriate chores for your little ones.
Let them dabble in arts and crafts.
Arts and crafts projects are not only fun and engaging, but they also take time to complete and will surely make your kids busy for hours on end. However, you need to find the right activities for this to work in your favor. Find something that’s not too easy nor difficult, or else your kids would lose interest sooner.
If you have children aged six and below, it’s better to keep things simple — something that does not require the use of sharp objects or won’t create a huge mess. You can let them play with clay sets or finger paint or work on coloring books, for starters.
Set a regular nap time.
For many work-from-home parents, nap time is a great opportunity to get loads of work done – you don’t have to worry about where your tots are or what they’re up to. But the thing is that children’s napping habits change frequently. They can sleep for hours or wake up after just a few minutes. Because you never know how long (or short) nap time will last, avoid scheduling meetings or important phone calls around these hours. Use this time instead to go over documents, send emails, or do non-essential tasks.
Plan activities that require minimal supervision.
Should your kids wake up from nap time a little early or finish their arts and crafts project sooner than expected, you can keep them occupied for longer with activities that need very little supervision. Try puzzles, reading time, or audiobooks for kids. If you’re already out of ideas, just let them play on their own. It’s okay if they get bored. In fact, independent playtime can even help stimulate their imagination and encourage creativity.
Allowing them some screen time won’t hurt.
As parents, you want your kids to spend as little time in front of the TV or tablet screen as possible, but now may be the time to cut yourself some slack.
Besides, screen time isn’t that bad. There’s a vast selection of educational shows and games that can impart them some learning while also keeping boredom at bay.
If they don’t want to watch shows or play games, you can open FaceTime or Zoom for a call with grandma and grandpa (or other relatives). They’ll love spending time with the kids and keeping an eye on them – even if it’s just through video chat.
Stick to a routine…
Following a daily routine will give everyone something to do or somewhere to be at specific times, so they’re occupied for the rest of the day. When creating the daily schedule, list all the things you want your kids to accomplish, including basic tasks like brushing their teeth, taking a bath, nap time, etc.
If you have kids who are already going to school, make sure to set a “school time” every day. You can have them attend remote classes, or you can use free learning resources on the Internet. While the young’uns are engaged in learning activities, you can get a couple of hours of undisturbed work time. For parents with babies and toddlers, appoint a parent or family member on kid-duty within a set time frame. This way, you can take turns in supervising the children while the other can focus on getting work done.
…but make it more fun.
Kids tend to get bored easily. So, while having a routine helps, you might want to mix things up a little bit to give them something to look forward to. The easiest way to do this is by designating a theme for each day of the week. Monday could be art day, where they spend a few hours getting creative. Tuesday could be sports day and they get to play in the yard or watch something sports-related on TV. Wednesday could be a bake-with-mom day (while dad works free of disturbance for the rest of the afternoon). Dress-as-a-superhero Thursdays and all-day-in-pajamas Fridays are also options worth exploring.
The idea is to keep them engaged and keep interruptions to a minimum while you’re working from home.
(Editor’s Note: We do not recommend electronic devices or screen time for children under 1-yr old. These children benefit much more from human interaction as it applies to encouraging proper and full-brain development. It is even a good idea to limit screen time until age three and instead focus on hands-on activities that will further motor control, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination.)