Dear Mary Pat,
My husband and I are finding it hard to juggle our work schedules (we’re both working remotely) while helping our three children with their schoolwork. I deliberately didn’t go back to work until my kids were old enough to be in school full time. They are obviously our first priority, but we still need to earn a living, and our bosses do expect a certain level of productivity. We don’t want to go through all of this and then end up with our kids falling behind in their schoolwork. Any tips?
Working from Home
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Dear Working from Home,
No one knows how long we will all be working from home, which on its own is a stressful thought. If we knew this was going to last X number of days, we could power through and not be much worse for the wear. That isn’t the case, though. Accepting that this might go on for a while and also accepting that not everything is in our control might help you to stay calm. Focus on things you can do immediately, such as coming up with a schedule and some structure.
If everyone can have a dedicated work space, that would be ideal. Maybe there is only one home office, so find a room with a door that closes to use as an additional office. Set the kids up in the kitchen, and help them to divide their work areas as best you can. Maybe you and your husband can work separate shifts, then arrange for larger breaks to help your children with their work. Divide and conquer, and share responsibilities.
After lunch, send your children outside for some fresh air and a walk (you should both go, too), and then have them return to their schoolwork. Set smaller goals for them and yourselves, and have a checklist for the things that must get done each day. Once they’re finished with their schoolwork for the day, give your kids a break to reach out to their friends virtually or have some down time. If they’re old enough, maybe they can start making dinner, unload the dishwasher or vacuum.
The longer you stay home, the easier you’ll find it to create the right balance, schedule and structure. You might even find that you really enjoy this less-hurried extra time together.