By Prevention Specialist Dawn Drake

With the world facing a pandemic due to Coronavirus, schools are shut down, restaurants and non-essential businesses are closed until further notice, many people are forced to apply for unemployment, and some can work from home. Now, working from home is great, but adding virtual schooling with a child, and adding a dose of 8 months of pregnancy can be a challenge. Thankfully, my job as a Prevention Specialist allows me to work from home when I am not programming at my local schools. 

Besides working, I am a mother with a 5-year-old in pre-k, plus one on the very soon way. Having a pre-k student may sound easy but not so much when you add speech and occupational therapy in the mix. With schoolwork now on a virtual platform, parents must keep track of what assignments and activities that are to be completed in a timely manner. As for myself, my daughter has activities to complete for her pre-k class, as well for speech and occupational therapy and while working 8 hours, tending to my daughter’s everyday needs and wants can be very stressful. 

However, as adults and being parents, we must do what we must do to continue to provide for our families and to continue to do our normal routines as much as possible. Working from home and juggling virtual school with our children, it is not impossible, and it is not easy, but it is not the end of the world and it is very doable; we as parents can succeed.  Sure, it takes time to adjust our schedule and incorporate a few hours every day to ensure that our children are completing their assignments and activities. 

Yes, I had to adjust my schedule, and maybe start my work earlier or later in the day but with my experience, here are some tips that I find helpful with working from home while juggling with virtual schooling with our children. 

  1. Discussion: Depending on the age of the child, it is best to have a sit down with your child and discuss what is happening and explain that temporary changes are going to be made. Make sure that your child understands that he or she will have to stay home and complete school while mom or dad is working; explain your expectations. 
  1. Schedule: I personally cannot function properly without a schedule, especially as a parent. Working from home sounds easy, but if not careful, one can easily get distracted from work. The best part of working from home is the flexibility to choose your own hours. Write a weekly schedule for the best time to start work and incorporate your child’s schooling. If you do not want to work full hours on weekdays, consider working on weekends if your job allows it. 
  1. Prepare: It is easier said than done to be fully prepared to hunker down at home with a child/children, but have activities or games laid out for your children to do, such as a box of materials for arts and crafts, coloring books, activity books, books to read, legos, stickers, or quiet games/toys. The great thing about imagination is it is endless. 
  1. Technology: Of course, we do not want our children to be glued to a TV, computer or tablet all day, however, it is okay to have some fun while learning that will have your child occupied while you work. For example, my daughter has a tablet for kids which has parental controls and fun learning games. I put a time limit, and it will shut down when time is up. My daughter will have headphones on and off she goes playing her games. FYI, Abcmouse.com is an excellent app for children to have fun while learning, and just for reminder, he or she might ask for help.  When it comes to technology, during this time of hunkering down at home, it is OKAY to extend the use of technology. As for work, the advancement of technology allows us to have virtual meetings with co-workers. 
  1. Traditional bookwork: If school websites went down, have your child do some activity workbooks. There is a vast selection of different activity workbooks that can be bought online, bookstores, chain stores that are affordable, even the Dollar Store/Tree.  Did I mention online sources? There are free online sources that parents can print out activity sheets for children. 
  1. More than one child: If you have more than one child and depending on the age, assign the older child to “babysit” the younger child for a few hours so that you can get some work done. 
  1. Ask for help: If possible, if your partner or spouse is not working or is able to work from home, discuss with him or her about schedules. In addition, contact your child’s teacher for any questions when it comes to schoolwork. 
  1. Outside: It is usually sunny in Florida, but whether you live in warmer temperatures or have all four seasons, take your child outside whether it is to the playground or around the house. Let your child play and release some energy while you are doing work on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Of course, keep an eye on your child as well…safety first!
  1. Relax: With a full schedule of working, taking care of your children, and maintaining your home, it is okay to not touch the laundry or dishes for a while. It is okay to take breaks in between. Go outside for a walk, do some yoga, take a nap if possible, or my favorite sip a good cup of joe and eat food.  

At the end of it all, working from home has it perks, and parents can accomplish work while juggling with virtual schooling with their children. Everything will be okay.