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Working from home with kids

Mind, Kids' Health, Show on Corporate Home

For many of us, working from home with our kids is uncharted territory. Not only is it more challenging to focus with little ones running—or crawling—around, but the shift can be hard on our children, too.

Here’s what you can do to structure your new remote work environment in a way that works for the whole family.

  • Babies: Try to keep your little one’s schedule as reasonably normal as you can. Plan for calls in the mornings or late afternoons if it works for your co-workers. Maximize time when baby is asleep, such as early in the morning or in the evenings. Many of us are navigating having the whole family at home right now. Try to be easy on yourself and communicate with your co-workers and/or supervisor about what’s feasible.
  • Toddlers: While we all want to strive to be super-parents in a digital age, it’s okay to relax screen time rules right now. Be flexible with both your work schedule and your toddler’s needs. Try to plan meetings or work that requires full attention during naptime. If you have another adult in the house, make a plan to tag-team working and caring for your child.
  • Ages 5-7: When kids are a little older, they will likely understand better that they can’t have your full attention 100% of the time. Again, it’s ok to relax screen time restrictions for now. If you need to, try starting a movie right before an important call or meeting. You can even use technology to your advantage and look for online games that are fun and reinforce learning.
  • Ages 8-11: At this age, you and your child can work on a plan together to figure out how to communicate and finish at-home schoolwork. Experiment with ways to let them know what kind of work zone you’re in, such as putting up a green, red or yellow sign to indicate whether noise or interruption is okay. Create a fun to-do list for your child or invest in craft supplies.
  • Middle school and preteens: Plan breaks throughout your day when you can go on bike rides, walks or play outside together. Set up a schedule and implement rewards for reaching daily schoolwork goals. At this age, kids can understand what’s happening around them. Use this as an opportunity to help them become savvy news consumers and reinforce why we’re all staying at home to help protect each other.
  • High schoolers: Teenagers may enjoy the lack of rigidity right now, and it’s okay to be flexible with bedtimes and strict school hours. However, set up a check-in system to make sure they are completing their schoolwork and create clear boundaries about screen or gaming time.

Working at home—especially with the whole family—is new for many of us. Be honest with your family and your co-workers about what you need and try not to be hard on yourself. Remember: we’re all navigating this together.