I know Coronavirus is on all of our minds right now, and tbh, my anxiety is through the roof. I know everyone says not to panic, and not to make anyone do the same, but I keep thinking that we’re at the start of a movie like Outbreak. It just all feels so surreal. My office is closed out of caution, which means due to COVID-19, I’m working from home for the foreseeable future and it’s likely my husband will be soon as well. James’ school is closed for the rest of the month too. Which means I’ll be working from home with kids.
While our nanny is still coming this week, I’m not sure if she’ll be able to continue to depending on how and where Coronavirus spreads, and I don’t want to put her health at risk. We’re taking it day by day, but it’s likely that I’ll be trying to work from home while also watching the kids without help at some point soon. Even when she’s here, the kids just want my attention and to play wherever I am, making it hard to do work. With a six month old and a toddler, who are on two different nap schedules (if the three year old naps at all) and have lots of energy, I don’t know how I’m going to get any work done. But work I must, and it’s almost double the work as I try to run a business remotely.
Personally, when I get stressed, I like to do research and come up with game plans and lists #TypeA. I’m starting to come up with a contingency plan for how to work at home with kids. Since I know I’m not alone, I thought I’d share how we’re planning to survive the Coronavirus and keep our kids safe and entertained while working from home.
Make a Schedule for the Day
Preschool offers James a really structured day that’s been really good for him. He likes knowing what comes next, and I think that’s true for all toddlers, and even babies. Routine gives them a sense of calm and safety. Typically, if my nanny is out sick, it’s a last-minute thing, and so the day is just total chaos with me trying to balance a full-time day job and full-time mom job. But since I know that his school will be closed for two weeks due to Coronavirus and I’ll be wfh during that time, I can try to plan ahead. I want to create a schedule and routine with activities and a semblance of a routine, so I’m not scrambling to find him something to do while I am about to hop on a conference call. I also think it’ll help me plan out my days — I can plan when to conduct calls and meetings during downtimes and naps, or while he’s running around at the park or strapped into a stroller, for example.
Here’s what I’m thinking for a sample schedule for James.
- Wake up and play while mom makes breakfast
- Get dressed and brush teeth
- Quiet play while mom does work and Charlotte naps
- Outdoor activity: I’m going to try to get outside as much as possible during this self-quarantine period to get energy out. I think fresh air is really good for overall health and wellbeing, and it’s a good alternative when you can’t be in play spaces or classes.
- Quiet play while Charlotte naps and mom does work
- Arts and Crafts or Learning Activity: I included some links below to activities I’m going to try and James’ school sent home some lessons and crafts too.
- Nap hopefully for both kids while mom works, takes calls, and meetings
- Quiet play while mom makes dinner and finishes work or back outside if everyone is super hyper or mom needs to make some calls or check emails
- Bath, stories and bedtime routine
- Mom finishes all the work she didn’t get to and works on the blog
Since it’s likely there are lots of other parents in the same boat, if your regular childcare isn’t available or you don’t have family in the area who can help, you can always work out a plan with other parent friends. Maybe you watch the kids in the morning, they take them in the afternoon. Or you could just all go to one person’s house and hopefully, the kids will keep each other entertained while the parents try to work. Obviously, you have to be careful with this to make sure no one is sick etc. but my understanding is this is okay if it’s a group under 20, and I’m thinking we’d just do this with one other COVID-19-free family.
Utilize mornings and nights
The truth is that it’s hard to do work when you’re watching your kids, and sometimes it’s just impossible. Rather than trying to do both and failing and getting overwhelmed, I’m going to do the stuff I have to do during the day, and then wake up early and sign on after the kids go to bed to finish up. When I’m going into the office, I try to wrap up as much as possible before I get home, so I can focus on my family when I’m home and get in some work on the blog or just some me (read: Netflix) time at night. It’s also much easier to get things done when I can focus solely on my work without distraction, and that usually means when my kids are asleep.
Make time for “school”
James’ school sent home some packets with materials they would be working on this week, so we can work on them at home. I also have some preschool workbooks that I am going to do with James each day, or have my nanny work on with him. This way it’s not all play all day, and he continues to work on focus and concentration and learning his words, numbers, etc. I included some links to educational activities below that we’ll be trying.
Try some of these boredom-busting activities
I have been researching fun activities to do with toddlers, and getting lots of good ideas from some other moms and experts. Here are some great articles for ideas.