Today, due to COVID-19, millions of parents are forced to work from home. At the same time, schools are closed and children are at home, too. Many families are trying to figure out how to make this new arrangement function well for everyone.
Parents need to get their work done. Children need to complete their school assignments. Everyone needs to stay sane.
I have some suggestions that result from my experiences in having had a home-based business while raising children. I’ve worked from home since 1983, so social isolation resulting from COVID-19 is not a new arrangement. Until my children left for college, there were always people around while I was working.
Here are some of the strategies I used to make it work for my family.
Having everyone together every minute of the day can be difficult for all concerned. This is especially so when space is limited and in locations where there are “stay inside” orders in effect. But some rules may be helpful.
Unless you have babies and toddlers that require constant monitoring, children can be instructed to let parents do their work without interruption. When my children were young, I had a separate office. When the office door was closed, I wasn’t to be interrupted. As I repeatedly said to them: “if you’re not bleeding, don’t open the door.” Of course, there are going to be interruptions, but do-not-disturb instructions can minimize them.
For some people, having a schedule for eating, working (and being done with work), schoolwork, fun, exercise, and relaxation can be useful. Parents can complete their work while their children are doing homework or chores. A schedule can also be helpful when there’s a need to share a laptop or other electronic equipment.
Being apart within the same space is necessary to get things done, but it’s great that everyone can come together for meals, movies, and fun. What we’re really doing through all of this is making memories. Let’s make them good ones.
According to the National Weather Service, snow fall in the winter of 1995-1996 was 300% above normal. This triggered 17 snow days where children were home from school. My children were home during this time and my usual work arrangement was disrupted.
I’m not equating the continual confinement from the coronavirus with the periodic confinement from the snow that winter season, but I recall how difficult even that was for me, as a parent who worked from home. There’s a message of hope here. By the last snowstorm, I was really feeling stressed from the situation, but thankfully spring arrived. We’ll get through COVID-19 too.
After the pandemic subsides, many businesses may have learned that having employees work remotely is a good arrangement, and that might continue (voluntarily or involuntarily). School-age children will be out of the home during school hours, making remote work easier for parents. But children will be home too, so the strategies you put into place now for remote work can pay off for years to come.
Julia Child said: “any disaster is a learning process.”
We’re all learning now.