While many moms and dads have had to work from home because of Covid-19, a lot of adjustments to everyday life have been called for to make everything run smoothly. Those who have had to juggle working with taking care of children in the same space at home won’t need telling. And with work-from-home continuing to be a preferred option by many, a couple of good tips could still come in handy, So here goes.
1. Allocate space
When your children have a virtual class to be in and you have to join an online meeting at the same time, how to manage the noise and distractions? You can get around it by clearly allocating spaces for different activities – a space for studying, a space for meetings, a space for common activities. The latter should be the largest so everyone can get together regularly. In parallel to this, parents are well advised to set clear rules for the children so they know to study or do other things quietly without disturbing their elders when they’re in the middle of a meeting or working on an important project with colleagues.
2. Find something to keep the kids occupied
During school holidays, if your children are old enough to take care of themselves and do activities on their own, find things for them to do. That way they won’t get bored or feel lonely or left out. The best idea is to select activities that enhance your children’s development. Children aged 2-3 years old are really at the beginning of their learning journey, so you can just let them play with toys that have easy learning mechanisms such as different shapes and colors. When they get to 3-5 years old, the age of imagination, it’s good for them to play with toys that nurture their creativity such as drawing, role playing, playing with cooking and store sets, and so on. For your peace of mind and their safety, designate an activity corner where you can still keep an eye on them while you work.
3. Prepare meals and snacks in advance
Food is another big part of working from home. Cooking and eating both take time. Preparing meals is more complicated when the children have different diets to the grown-ups as each must be tuned to their particular stage of development.
The Bureau of Nutrition, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, has set nutrition flags that include recommended proportions and types of foods that should be consumed. These are divided into six groups: rice-flour; vegetables; fruit; meat; milk; and fat, sugar & salt
• The recommendation is for children aged 1-3 years old to consume 3 serving spoons of rice-flour, 2 serving spoons of vegetables, 3 pieces of fruit, 3 tablespoons of meat, 2 glasses of milk, and no more than 2 teaspoons of sugar.
• Children aged 4-5 years old should eat 5 serving spoons of rice-flour, 3 serving spoons of vegetables, 3 pieces of fruit, 3 tablespoons of meat, 2-3 glasses of milk, and no more than 3 teaspoons of sugar.
Planning in advance makes it possible to prepare nutritious meals without wasting too much time and have them ready according to schedule. If you can’t find time during the day, you can prepare everything in the evening after work, ready for the next day, and keep it in the fridge. Then all you have to do is warm it up, or just serve it, at meal and snack times.
4. Time Management
During working from home, the whole daily routine is changed. Under normal conditions, you may have been able to quit your job early but now you’re always on call and may find yourself working late and therefore eating dinner late too. This makes good time management essential. Set break times and finishing time and stick to them. And don't forget stretching and exercise time. You’ll need it. Use reminders and calendars so you don’t just keep going.
Moreover, online schooling can mean more homework which can be stressful for the children. As a parent, you can manage the children’s time and establish a sense of time discipline in them from an early age. Simply start by setting an example. Start work on time yourself. Have a regular scheduled lunch break. When you’re working, concentrate on what you’re doing. Schedule some time for family activities as well, say a snack together or watching a cartoon that will get your children to relax as well as yourself.
5. Have rewards at the ready
Besides planning and managing your work and taking care of the kids, everything will go more smoothly when you have the kids’ cooperation with the new way of schooling and living you’re trying to structure for them. Setting them up to attend class and study online during work from home takes a bit of effort both in the beginning and to keep going. A little reward for a job well done reinforces good behavior and encourages them to keep going with good motivation and self-discipline.
Whether you take some of this advice or not, we wish you well in your work from home journey. Above all, please take good care of your health and your children’s health, both physically and mentally. Then whatever life throws at you, you’ll be well-equipped to keep smiling through it.