29 Jan 2021
Tips for parents caring for children and home-schooling while remote working

With schools and nurseries once again closed due to COVID – 19, many of us will need to balance remote working with childcare and home schooling. Just working from home can be challenging; dealing with feelings of isolation, and problems with technology. But when you add children into the mix there can be a whole new set of challenges that can increase stress on parents.

Family and Health comes first

Be kind to yourself. This is an unprecedented situation, and everyone is finding their way through a new normality. Don’t stress about being perfect. What is most important is that you and your family are safe and happy.  If that means your child doesn’t quite finish their teacher’s Maths learning grid for that week then don’t worry. Schools understand too.

Consider a routine (but be prepared to be flexible)

Structure can be comforting to both children and adults alike. Establishing a routine for the day can help to set expectations. Making sure that there is time set aside for breaks means that you can spend these as a family; go for a walk, play games with your kids, eat together. Young kids (and some older ones) might not always want to get with the program all of the time, and that’s OK too. The key is to be flexible and not to worry to much about deviations from the plan. Just make sure that you add plenty of free play and reading time. Set small goals and anything more you achieve is a bonus! 

Communicate with your manager

In this uncertain time, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your work colleagues. When you have established a schedule that works, discuss this with your manager. Let them know that you are working towards a solution that works for everyone. You may find that you are unable to work as you usually would and rethinking both your work hours and priorities is the only way forward. Working earlier in the morning, or later at night when your child is in bed might be a better way of getting those urgent tasks completed. Prioritise your work too so that essential tasks are always moving forward.

Communicate your availability

This is where apps such as Microsoft Teams and Horizon Collaborate come in to their own. A status message displaying your availability can alert colleagues and help them to plan work on their side accordingly. Blocking offline hours in your calendar or setting Out of Office messages on Outlook can be a good idea too. If your schedule changes frequently, let people know that your responses might be delayed and how to reach you with anything urgent or who they can contact instead. Sharing proactive messages in this way will ultimately help all involved.

Make meetings count

Ask for a meeting agenda ahead of time, then you can determine if you are a required or optional attendee. This allows you to prioritise your time.  Schedule meetings to conclude five minutes before the end of the hour to avoid uninterrupted back-to-backs. Communicate with the organiser if a meeting is scheduled for a time you know you won’t be available or is harder for you to give your full attention. Perhaps an 11.am to 12 o’clock meeting isn’t ideal when it coincides with an increasingly irritable hungry toddler who is ready for lunchtime. 

Use Technology to your advantage

The traditional working/school week is not happening for the time being, and this means that parents are now having to simultaneously be entertainers and teachers, while fulfilling work commitments. But in today’s world we have technology at our fingertips with the potential to make this fine balancing act easier. Teachers setting work for your school age children, through technological means, can help guide parents on expectations, and keeps essential teacher feedback going.  Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Adobe Connect can also provide virtual spaces where your child’s education can continue the dialogue between child, teacher and classmates. But even where this is not happening, perhaps your child is young and not getting much educational support, there is a wealth of educational online resources. Many celebrities too are offering free activities available online that that can help keep your kids learning and entertained.

Focus on the positives

Home life and work life can become blurred at this time and it is easy for this to happen. Mastering the work-life balance to maintain a healthy lifestyle is important and the key is to find your own balance that works for you and your children. Don’t worry if sometimes that means a little bit more TV time for your child. These are extraordinary times and not everything has to be perfect. Trying our best is the best that we can do. Focus on what you have achieved, and our children safe and happy during this time is the most important achievement.

Resources to help keep you and your little ones learning and entertained:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-online-education-resources-for-home-education

www.open.edu/openlearn

www.docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/learn

Educational Netflix Shows

The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes

Weird Wonders of the World

National Parks Adventure

Islands of the Future

Magical Andes

Oceans

Stay home and stay safe everyone.