Practical Tips for Working from Home During Coronavirus
by Courtney Gupta
The other day I wore a tiara to a zoom meeting. Not because I wanted to, but because my daughter needed attention and this seemed to satisfy her. As much as I love my daughter’s sense of professional style, I long for the days when I will be just working or just parenting. When life goes back to “normal,” I imagine both work and parenting will feel easier. Until then, let me share with you how my husband and I are surviving working from home during Covid-19 with a 3.5 year old and a 6 month old.
Meal prep on the weekend. We make three meals over the weekend to help get us through the week so we don’t have to try and work, watch kids, and cook dinner. I make enough for leftovers, so we eat meal 1 on Saturday and Tuesday, meal 2 on Sunday and Wednesday, and meal 3 on Monday and Thursday. Or sometimes I freeze an extra meal to have on hand. Friday we do something simple like breakfast for dinner or chicken nuggets. This works for me, but I would encourage you to find a system that works for your family.
One planned activity a day. Fortunately for us, independent play is an incredibly important skill for our children to learn. Think of Covid-19 as the perfect (forced) opportunity to develop independent play. Each day I have one planned activity that my 3.5 year old can do on her own for ideally 30-60 minutes. I get most of my ideas from Busy Toddler; the Pouring Station activity was a real hit last week. We also love kinetic sand, sensory bins (like grass, expired rice/pasta, water), stickers, cutting with scissors, and scratch art. It is not necessary to have an entire day of activities planned. Just aim for one set thing a day to give both of you something to look forward to.
Fill their attention cup. Try and give each child at least 30 minutes of totally uninterrupted, individual play time. Put the phone in the other room, close the computer, get on the floor, look into your child’s eyes, and be present. The other day, I took off my glasses, laid on the floor next to my 6 month old and let her touch my face. She was thrilled. I couldn’t believe it could be that simple. Our children need to know we are there for them. We don’t have to (and can’t) be there all day, but if we are intentional about the time we do have with them, it will be enough.
Stay connected to family and friends, for your sake and theirs. While social distancing keeps us physically apart, I use the app Marco Polo to send and receive video messages to my friends throughout the day. I feel socially connected without needing to block out a set time to facetime. You can just send quick video messages and look at them when you have time. For my kids, I try to facetime with their grandparents or friends at least once a day. It gives me a break from being “on” all the time and keeps them connected to others. Encourage grandparents to take the lead with your older kids while you sneak away to answer emails.
And finally, though it’s been said before it bears repeating: you are enough. I know it’s overwhelming and it may feel like sometimes we are failing our kids, but I promise: you are not. Does your child feel safe? Does your child feel loved? Then you have done enough.
For what the research says are the key things you can do to encourage your child’s development during Covid-19, check out the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and particularly their special podcast series on Covid-19.