10 Tips for Working at Home with Kids during COVID-19

How’s everyone doing? School? No school? Back-to-work? Still at home? I want to preface this post by saying I am by no means an expert at working from home fulltime with kids also at home fulltime. It’s a big difference from working at home while your kids are at school or camp. Just before COVID, I accepted a fulltime job for a magazine I’ve regularly contributed to for the past few years. I was so looking forward to being able to compartmentalize parenting and work and increase my workload. Then a pandemic swept in. I found myself with all my children home all day AND a full-time workload. Going back and forth between family duties and professional ones wasn’t novel to me. But a new job and suddenly all my children at home all day (with no family nearby and a husband who has been back to work at his office/lab for a while now might I add) has added a rather demanding daily schedule. Five months into it, however, I feel like I’m in somewhat of a groove and wanted to offer some tips as we head into the school year. Please do share your tips and know that by no means do I follow these tips 24/7.

1-Get dressed! My day hasn’t started until I’ve made my bed, showered and gotten dressed. While usually, it’s merely jean shorts and a cotton top, I find getting ready for my day no matter if I’m leaving the house or not energizes me and gives me a strong start. I’ve been like this since before children and am especially glad about this habit now. 

2-Embrace early mornings instead of late nights. Science has already proven that being on your computer or phone before bed can affect sleep and in general isn’t that great. However, it’s hard now with parents desperately needing uninterrupted work time that they can only get when our children are asleep. Try seeing if you can get to bed early, get a quality night’s rest and fit in half an hour to an hour of work before everyone rises. 

3-Turn calls into power walks. Loading my kids in the stroller during calls has been essential for me during the week. I get some exercise, I can actually pay attention to what’s discussed and my kids get some fresh air. It’s a double win! I let my oldest walk alongside me. Remember to mute.

4Carve out a designated workspace and keep some things for the kids there. This might mean moving somethings around. We now have most of the kids’ playthings in our living room. And the play area in the basement is now a designated workspace. I also keep some coloring books, crayons and puzzles nearby if I need a few extra minutes. 

5Look into Montesorri activities or “table time” as we call it in our house. At least once mid-morning and again later afternoon, I pull something out for the kids to do independently at the table so I can check emails, proofread, etc. 

6Pack everyone’s lunches the night before.  The noon hour will be smooth, it makes impromptu picnics easy, you’ll dirty less dishes- I could go on and could write an entire post about kids lunches! Try carving 10-15 minutes each night to put together whatever lunch you can-maybe little salads with leftover meat from dinner, wraps, a mini cheese and pickle plate with fruit? I’ve shared quite a bit of leftover-to-lunch snaps in my stories if you need some ideas. I don’t plan our lunches but use it as an opportunity to use up pantry items or food that would go bad.

7-Let go of what domestic duties you can and solicit help. This is the hardest for me. It’s a double-edged sword because I operate better when my house is tidy. And I love to cook. But right now, I need to be able to focus on kids and work. With my time so very limited, I’ve had to let some things go, such as laundry that’s been piling up for months. Things like having someone clean the house once a week, takeout, and simplified cooking have helped tremendously.

8-Stay focused! When you’re eating breakfast with your kids, focus on your breakfast with your kids (not work or laundry or unanswered text messages). When you have an hour to work, focus on work (not social media, online shopping, etc).

9-Know when to throw in the towel. No sense in pushing you and your kids to your limit, which likely puts everyone in a sour mood. Don’t wait for bickering or meltdowns or other needs to escalate. You can’t work effectively at that point anyway. Shut your computer off and wait until naps or downtime at that point to try to get some work in. 

10Keep a positive attitude. You’re doing the best you can so don’t be too hard on yourself. Show yourself and your children some grace. This is what it is. It is hard when you’re trying to do ten things at once, you’ve been up since dawn, it’s loud, I can go on. But do try. Kids pick up on your vibes. Try to compartmentalize work or personal stress and keep your head up. I’m constantly reminding myself and my husband that our kids are healthy and happy, we both have jobs and that the things that are causing stress, are in actuality, gifts. 

P.S. This summer we have loved and couldn’t have survived without LoLa Art BoxKinetic SandLegoscampingthis activity book among others from Wide Eyed Editions and so many helpful resources from this very site. Thanks for reading and stay well!

Xx- Addie


Comments (4)

August 25, 2020

Thank you Addie for these tips. It’s such a wild time and it’s nice to know ways in which others are navigating.

Addie in North Carolina
September 21, 2020

Sorry for the late reply Anna but thank you for your comment. A wild time these days indeed!

Another Anna
November 17, 2020

I’m curious–how has anything changed as the months wear on? I’m really struggling not just leaving my work until the evening as I feel like now my children get more anxious when they see me pull out the laptop or put in my headphones for a meeting.

Esther in Amsterdam
November 18, 2020

True! I hear you. Actually, it’s not just my children who get anxious — in my case, it’s also ME getting anxious! I think we should probably keep in mind that working from home means we’re more productive, so perhaps we should make sure not to take too much on our plate. But also, it’s probably a good idea to set very clear boundaries, and be inventive. (It also really depends how old your children are, of course.) xxx

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