Working Remotely With Kids? This Is How to Stay Organized
Employers and employees embarked on a new normal in the spring of 2020, when COVID-19 forced employees to work remotely. Prior to COVID only 7% of U.S. employees worked remotely, compared to more than 60% today1. At the same time that parents were shifting from the office to home, their children were starting distance learning. Parents had very little time to prepare for this new normal, suddenly navigating a schedule that hopefully accommodated everyone’s needs. It’s a challenge that employers, employees and students hoped would have disappeared with the start of a new school year. Even though it didn’t, parents can still meet the challenge of working remotely, helping kids stay on the right educational trajectory and keeping a happy home at the same time. The following organizational tips will help.
Ditch the Digital Planner
We don’t really suggest that you stop using digital planners, but are proposing that a hard copy would also be beneficial to the whole family. Place an old fashioned calendar in a common place to keep both parents and kids aware of each other’s activities, assignments and due dates. Include a color key, assigning a color to each parent and child. With just a glance you’ll be able to view individual responsibilities for a given day and how they relate to each other’s tasks and where everyone should be on the schedule. This enables you to manage different schedules; yours and the kids.
Parents don’t need to include work specifics on the calendar, but enough information for kids to understand what’s going on and when. For instance, input the time of your virtual meetings and what is expected of the child. Involve the kids in a safe activity that helps to keep them busy while you meet with customers or colleagues.
Older students are probably capable of checking a digital calendar daily; but will they? In a classroom setting, teachers prompt kids to stay on top of assignments, reminding them to check a syllabus or calendar to keep up with work. It’s too easy for parents, playing the role of both home educator and remote employee, to drop the ball. Even asking the kids if they’ve checked the digital calendar, doesn’t ensure they will or that they’ve followed through on the assignments outlined there. Download your children’s digital assignments to a hard copy and staple it to the family calendar. That way it’s at the parent’s fingertips.
Nighttime’s the Right Time
Planning the night before a big day will help determine the outcome. In regards to planning for school or work, nighttime rituals should stay about the same as if you and the kids were leaving the house the next day. This includes what time everyone goes to bed and how to dress for school at home. Because your family is out of its normal routine of leaving the house, it’s easy to throw routine out the window. There may be some wiggle room with what time the kids have to get up each morning, but they need boundaries to stay on track. Sleepy kids that arise too late also affect the parent’s work schedule. Running like clockwork is important when working and attending school from home, just as when catching the school bus or commuting to work was the norm.
Plan ahead for the next day. Go over the calendar and what is expected from each child and how they will accomplish what is expected. Manage expectations before they manifest in real work/school time. Unlike studying in a traditional classroom, don’t expect that class schedules will require that your child begin at 8:00 am and dismiss at 3:00 p.m. A diligent child at home, might finish school work way before his or her normal class would end if they were in a traditional class room setting. Have a plan in place to address free time.
Schedule Fun Time
What they say about all work and no play is true. It’s dull. Distance learning and working remotely is an opportunity that could bring out the best in every family. Schedule fun activities into each day. See some ideas here. Make it official by entering it on the family calendar. Limited by the pandemic you can’t get out and about, but you can still have fun at home. Break out the board games, family movie night or hit the drive-in theater. Come up with rewards for a hard day’s work and have some fun with the kids. Involve them in planning activities. Work hard. Play hard.
To help your family navigate its work/study requirements in a new normal, brought on by the COVID pandemic, download a helpful organizational planner from NextEra Home.