If like me, you are a working parent you’re facing the challenge of balancing work and home life like never before. How do you work remotely – and effectively, at that – when your home has also become a school and a playground?
Below are several tips my team and I implemented in our own homes to help our families adjust to this novel situation.
1. Making A Plan
Making a plan is a great place to start. Children of all ages thrive on structure, and in these uncertain times, it can help give them a sense of normality. It will also make you more productive. Here are some things to include in your plan: time for meals, quiet time, playtime, online schooling and homework.
However, don’t stress over maintaining a strict schedule. Remember, this is new for everyone – your schedule will be a work-in-progress for some time until you sort out what works best for you and your family. Sometimes, it helps to involve your older children in managing their schedule and giving them some options for flexibility, so they feel they have more control over their days.
2. There’s An App For That
- In addition to reading books Audible is also offering a selection of free books for kids
- Duolingo is a game style language learning app and the school version is designed for children
- CBeebies learning area has a range of fun and free learning games
- Zoo and aquarium live streams - there are quite a few zoos and aquariums live broadcasting their webcam streams for you to pay the animals a virtual visit
- twinkl is an online educational publishing house which is currently providing free educational resources such as activity sheets and live-streamed phonics lessons
- Scholastic Learn at Home
- ABCmouse (for ages 2-8)
- Adventure Academy (for ages 8-13)
For more great apps including learning how to code with Disney characters click here.
3. Sparking Creativity
There are tons of creative activities to get the kids away from screens. Here are just some that we’ve been having fun with:
- Set up an art station with supplies (indoors or in the garden if the weather is nice)
- Paint rocks
- Experiment with clay
- Make your own slime or playdough
- Get creative with chalk on the pavements
- Decorate your windows (window markers can be fun)
- Face painting (great for surprising grandparents on FaceTime!)
- Have them write and illustrate their own book
- Set up a still life scene for them to draw/paint
- Ask them to write and perform a song or rap about something they love
- Have them develop a play to perform for you at the end of the day (write the storyline, scripts and songs, design and build set and props, put together costumes, perform)
- Indoor camping can be fun for the less sunny days
Build a den with cushions, pillows and blankets
For more inspiration check out these 50 crafty ideas that are sure to keep the kids entertained.
4. Getting Active
While staying at home means fewer opportunities to be physically active exercise is a great mood booster and keeps your immune system strong.
If you have access to a garden or outdoor space now is the ideal time to involve the kids with growing plants and vegetables. You can easily order bulbs or seeds online and many local garden centres are also offering contact-free delivery straight to your door. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow things like tomatoes, cress or sunflowers indoors or on your balcony.
My son Leo has also been making the most of the outdoors and has mastered riding a bike. No stabilisers or anything, not bad for a 3yr old! We’ve also been joining in with a few initiatives in our village including putting teddy bears in our windows so that when children go out on their daily walks each day, they can go on a bear hunt. Leo has also been busy painting rocks which people have been putting around the village, for others to spot and brighten up their walks.
Here are some more ideas that will get their heartrates up:
- Joe Wickes The Body Coach is hosting a free PE lesson every weekday at 9 am that you can stream on his YouTube channel – some are even fancy dress themed!
- Kid’s yoga sessions such as Cosmic Kids Yoga are also a fun way to stay active
- Bring out the karaoke and have them sing and dance to their favourite tunes
- Build an obstacle course and run a timed contest at the end of the day with prizes
- Get them involved with completing chores around the house such as tidying up their rooms (check out TikTok for some ‘Clean Room Challenge’ before and after videos and maybe record your own).
5. Staying Connected
At times this situation can be stressful so it’s important to stay connected with others, especially whilst social distancing. My colleague’s two daughters schedule in ‘virtual’ playtime with their school class for 30 minutes each day. My family and I also call friends and family via FaceTime to touch base and see each other which has gone down well.
There are also some helpful groups for parents you can join on Facebook to share tips and show support for each other. One of these is Parents Keeping Sane During Coronavirus but there are lots more out there.
Writing letters to friends and family is also a great way to stay in touch and can lift spirits!
6. Asking For Flexibility
Every family is different and depending on your circumstances and the needs and ages of your children, you may want to adjust your working hours to reflect something realistic. For example, you may find it more productive to work early in the morning before your household is awake and then return to work later in the day. Once you’ve agreed on an arrangement with your manager, make sure to share your availability with your co-workers, reschedule meetings if necessary, and block off time on your diary when you plan to be offline.
7. Enjoying Time Together
With no daily commute to navigate, you’re in a unique situation to be able to spend more quality time with your family (as testing as they might be at times!) I have found that trying to finish work on time helps me switch off and gives me more of a distinction between work and home life.
Using your daily exercise allowance to take the kids outdoors also gives you (and them) something to look forward to. Now is also a great time to explore the night sky. With most businesses and shops shut in cities around the world, stars are even brighter and easier to spot due to the lack of light pollution interfering with the view of the night sky. Here are some ideas from National Geographic to get your family stargazing in no time.