Navigating a New Normal in a Work-From-Home World
Kendra Porrello Office Manager
Are you one of the many who found themselves working from home? How about working from home with your kids?
Whether you already had a home office or you had to quickly makeshift one in the corner of your home, the biggest adjustment you may have had to make is becoming your child(ren)’s new teacher.
No doubt this has not been an easy transition for anyone – not you nor your kids. However, when there is real work to be done, how do you navigate this new (and hopefully temporary) normal?
First, let me say there is no right or wrong way. What works for someone else may not work for you. It could be that the hour-by-hour schedule is just what you need and your kids are thriving off it. Or, it could be that half the morning they are on their tablets and iPads, watching TV and generally staying away from you so you can get work done. Either way, it is OK.
However, there are ways we can set ourselves and our kids up for success. Here are a few ways I am discovering can help as I have transitioned from working in a downtown-office setting to working from home with my additional role as a teacher.
Make a list of the items or tasks that must be completed by the end of the day. Then, list the others that would be next to get done but can wait until the following day if needed. This will ensure that once you are at your desk (or kitchen table or new-found workspace) you know exactly where to start and you can get going with more efficiency.
If you have meetings throughout the day, schedule quiet time for the kids or give them self-sufficient activities they can work on independently while you are in your meeting. (It may be good to have a few items in the queue in case of boredom or an activity is finished early.)
Also, plan which assignments your kids need to work on so that when the time comes, there is no confusion and they can get right to work.
At Kinetic we like to #overcommunicate. Tell your teammates what your preferred means of communication is and then stay on top of checking it. Make sure your coworkers, clients and main points of contact have a good way to reach you with your most updated information.
If you have to get your kids settled into schoolwork or an activity, let those with whom you communicate most know that you’re stepping away from your computer and when you’ll be back. If you find yourself taking a break at the same time each day, whether to make lunch or help kids, get it on your calendar for all to see that you’ll be out. A quick email with any schedule changes or important information is always helpful.
Lastly, and maybe the most important point of all, communicate with your kids. Talk to them about what is going on and let them talk to you. Clue them in on what the day is going to look like and set expectations.
A change in your routine may be in order, so don’t be afraid to keep changing it until there is a resemblance of a schedule that works for both you and your kids. Can you start working earlier than you normally would to take advantage of sleeping kids and slow mornings? Or can you work an extra few hours at night to make up for the distractions? Is the hourly school schedule not working? Scrap it and take advantage of a nice day and let the kids be outside for most of it.
If the kids really need your help, see if it is something that can wait until after your workday ends. Or spend a few hours on a Saturday morning with your child and give them your undivided attention. This could be more beneficial than squeezing it in during the week. Whatever your day looks like, be flexible because it may not look the same tomorrow.
Think outside of the box
I know that teachers are assigning work and sending home worksheets, but if that’s getting you eye rolls and bad attitudes then I like to assign tasks I simply call “life skills.” There is no shortage of tasks that can be put in this bucket.
There is no time like the present to have your young one practice tying her shoes, or have a middle schooler learn to sort and wash laundry.
Another idea is to ask your child what he/she wants to learn about, then help them gather the resources to do it. That extra time practicing piano, working on their soccer moves or reading about becoming an entrepreneur will not be wasted, and it will keep their attention longer and allow you to get some of your work done.
Don’t do it alone
If you and your spouse have found yourself at home, then lean on each other for help. There are many ways to divide and conquer in a day. Just make sure to #overcommunicate with each other.
If you are all by yourself, there are still plenty of ways to not do it alone. Use Skype or FaceTime to call up a relative (a teacher in the family perhaps) and have them tutor your child for an hour. Have an older child help out their younger sibling. Reach out to other parents you know who homeschool already and seek advice or join a Facebook group. Most importantly, get all of your kids involved as well. Let them give their input and see if you can work together with them to make this a smoother and more enjoyable time for everyone.
Find the silver linings
Look for those things you can be grateful for and help your kids do the same. There are so many opportunities here. The more you look for the good things about this situation the happier you will be and it will help you and your kids to look back on this time as a positive experience rather than a dreadful one. I’m loving the extra hugs I get throughout the day and I welcome the time I get to be with them.
Be gracious to yourself and others. Cut yourself some slack and don’t stress about All. The. Things. So what if all the dishes aren’t done? No one can come over to see it anyway. There’s more homework to do? It can be finished up another day. Missed your workout? Try again on the weekend. Kids were watching TV the whole day? Give them extra time outside tomorrow.
More and more I’m seeing advice from teachers letting parents know that their most important job right now is to be a safe place for their kids and to bond with them more than anything. All education will not be lost, and they’ll be able to jump right back into it when school resumes as usual, whenever that might be. Do what needs to be done and the rest, it can wait.
https://www.storylineonline.net/ (Actors/Actresses reading stories with some animation)
https://www.cosmickids.com/ (Kids yoga to stories)
https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/mo-willems/ (Learning how to draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing)
https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/135609/list-of-education-companies-offering-free-subscriptions/ (A list of companies that are offering free subscriptions due to school closings)
https://www.getepic.com/ (A digital library for kids 12 and under)
https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours (Gives links to multiple museums that offer virtual tours)
https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html (scholastic offering free 20 day courses and learning material)
Kendra started in 2017 as Kinetic’s administrative assistant and unofficial hospitality specialist. Although her administrative duties are varied, her top priorities are keeping the coffee stocked, the chocolate jar full and planning parties for all of Kinetic’s accomplishments big and small.
Rumor has it she is the best Matcha maker out there. Don’t know what Matcha is? Stop into the Kinetic office and she’ll greet you with a cup of coffee or a hot Matcha.
When she is not keeping the office running smoothly, Kendra is coaching her kids’ soccer teams, critiquing movies or the latest Netflix shows, and enjoying the outdoors with her family — even if it’s in her own backyard.Read more about Kendra