Tips for Working Remotely

During the outbreak, social distancing is recommended. Daycares and schools are closed. Children are learning from home and parents are working from home. While normal childcare solutions are shut down, families find themselves in position where they need to carve out blocks of time to work while also keeping their children engaged and learning. While it may seem overwhelming, there are many techniques to manage this.

Setting up an environment conducive to parents working and children learning

Many families are now facing the daunting challenge of working from home while homeschooling their children. To balance the pressures of working while homeschooling, veteran work-from-home homeschooling parents have provided the following advice, adapted from this article.

  • Set realistic expectations for parents and kids.

    • Parents should realize they are not going to be as productive as they would be working from home without kids being around, much less working in the office. Parents should reset expectations with their boss and themselves and make a conscious decision to pause on anything that can wait until after the crisis is over.

    • Parents should recognize that they are not going to be able to reproduce the exact structure of school at home. It’s okay if what kids do at home doesn’t look exactly like what they do at school.

  • Carve out 2-3 hour blocks of time where parents can focus on work.

    • The idea here is quality, not quantity, of time. While the block may only be an hour, it can be a completely heads down, focused hour that’s really productive. 

    • If carving out a completely focused block (e.g., kids are always awake when parent is), isn’t possible, instead set the expectation that work is the top priority during that block. Kids will be the priority during other blocks of time.

    • It’s realistic to get one of these blocks in per work day. Parents will be able to do work at other times during the day, but during distracted blocks.. If possible, push all meetings and calls scheduled into the focused block.

  • Make sure parent has somewhere to get work done during focused work blocks with minimal distractions.

    • If there is no separate room in the home, create separation with headphones and/or visual cues like room dividers, plants, furniture, etc.

  • Make sure kids have somewhere to do their thing.

    • This can be a seat at the dining table, a corner of the living room, or even their bed. Some kids will want or need a formal desk setup. Others will be resistant to sitting at desks. This is not a battle worth fighting right now so don’t push one over the other.

  • Create rhythms and routines vs hour-by-hour schedules.

    • Hour-by-hour schedules work in school or in offices, but not so well at home in the absence of external time pressures. Instead, think about blocks of time — focus time, collaborative time, free time (for reference see the sample schedule below). This provides flexibility to adapt and respond while also providing some of the comforts of predictability and routine.

  • Triage and prioritize.

    • If a school has required assignments to be completed, parents should not ignore them. But parents should give their kids and themselves a lot of grace if the assignments are only partially done or don’t get done at all. If parents find themselves getting into arguments about doing the work, it’s best to let it go. Kids — along with many of their classmates who also won’t get everything done — will sort it out when they go back to school.

    • Bottom line — prioritize maintaining the parent and kids’ mental health at this time. This is an anxiety-filled, unsettling time for adults and kids. It’s important for parents to pick their battles about what’s most important right now

Sample day for working from home while homeschooling:

homeschool schedule.png

Enriching activities for kids to do while parents work at home

It’s normal for parents to be concerned that their children staying home all day may disrupt their productivity. It represents a significant change in one’s day to day routine and can cause stress for the whole family. 

Remote jobs for Parents

Parents may feel pressed to make up lost income from shutdowns. There are many opportunities for parents to work at home. Here are a few places to start:

What to do if employers don’t pay during the school closures

Parents may be concerned that their employer either will not or will not be required to pay them while they’re home with children during school closures. Here are resources to help determine whether or not an employer is required to pay and what to do if they are not.

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick or family leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19, including

    • 2 weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus

    • 2 weeks of paid sick leave if they are caring for sick family members. 

    • 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of coronavirus.

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