This article was published as part of the Denver Business Journal Leadership Trust, an invitation-only network of influential business leaders, experts, executives and entrepreneurs.
The insanity that is 2020 is affecting every aspect of business and life. In the past, we would approach the end of summer and look forward to the kids going back to school – which typically meant that the kids were going to school and parents could settle into a work routine without trying to navigate summer camp activities and boredom.
This year is just a little different. Parents, business owners, managers and co-workers alike are facing a harsh reality: The kids aren’t going back to school.
I am honored to work with a group of brilliant women who are working mothers and who I consider experts in working from home with children. I asked for their best tips on accommodating a work schedule and school schedule in the same house. Here is a collection of their wisdom:
Set boundaries that help children learn to rely on themselves, even when you are just a room away. Establish office hours and break times when you are available for questions, requests and rides. If possible, keep your office door shut, which means do not enter unless someone is bleeding. Post office hours so that everyone knows when a parent or child is available. Working professionals should leverage their calendar function for each activity. If you are taking lunch with the kids, block the time – we’re all in this together.
- Creating spaces
It’s important that in the absence of an “office” and a “school,” you create spaces for the home office and the home school. Don’t dilute family connection by making the family gathering place, such as a dining room table, into a workspace. Even a small corner of a bedroom or family room that is specifically for schoolwork will help kids create separation. For parents, an office with a door is ideal, but having a work space is the most important. Consider creating a little library for reading time, with books and pillows for snuggling. Partitions or bookshelves can help separate spaces for different activities.
- Getting things done
Set out snacks and pack all lunches the night before, just as you would if you were going to school and work. Build in recess time to go for a walk or a bike ride or head to the park. Try to create some structure around your day so that everyone can settle into a routine. Start times and end times for work and school are important. Consider an app that tracks your kids’ chores and then reminds you to pay them when they’re complete.
Get creative with extracurricular activities. Things like archery, pottery, frisbee golf and regular golf are all good options and abide by social distancing requirements. Some people have created friend pods with rotating homes during the week, with each family signing an agreement about staying safe and socially distant. Take temperatures each morning, and keep sick kids home. This approach may help you carve out some focused time for work while allowing your children to be with their friends under the watchful eye of another parent.
- Managing communication
Introduce the foundation of good communication. Teach your kids to check all channels of communication, just as we do for work. Everyone has a preferred method, and every channel is important. Distance communication is exhausting, but it’s critical to success for both students and parents.
The confines of the pandemic have absolutely leveled the playing field – parents, regardless of gender or culture, are all struggling. Managers and business owners are being resourceful in order to keep organizations operational. Innovation is everywhere. So while we certainly aren’t doing things the way we have in the past, I’m positive that we’ve all become a little more patient, adaptable and accepting of the personal lives of the people we work with – and that’s a silver lining to carry into our future.
Read the full article here.