I’m currently quarantined in a full house. My mom, dad and I are all working from home full time. Most of our weekdays have consisted of taking calls, completing projects, and the occasional virtual lunch or happy hour. My two brothers, ages 12 and 15, are far less busy. The schools in Massachusetts are still in the process of developing a plan for virtual learning, so for now, they have been receiving weekly assignments. They spend about 2-3 hours per day on work and have the rest of the day to really do whatever they want. All five of us are on completely different schedules, and we are still learning to manage it all under one roof.
Luckily my siblings are at a self-sufficient age. They wake up on their own, complete their work, and for the most part, have an idea of what to do when boredom strikes. Not all families are having the same experience though. It can be extremely challenging to manage working from home while also having to entertain children day after day. Parents and guardians are used to dropping kids off at school and having those 6-7 hours a day to get work done, whether it’s around the house or at their places of work. So, it’s no secret that this is a huge adjustment for both the parent and child. Here are a few ways my family has been managing this transition.
1. Set a schedule.
The adults in my house have schedules that usually revolve around the work-related calls set on our calendars, but kids should also try to stick to a schedule. Work together to determine a time for them to wake up, get outside, and complete work and/or chores, etc. This helps everyone accomplish their goals and makes the day go by faster.
2. Go Outside.
My brothers measured regulation foul and three-point lines in front their basketball hoop in the driveway and have been spending hours shooting ever since. It doesn’t need to be that thought out, but spend a few minutes getting fresh air. It will drastically improve everyone’s moods.
3. Limit Screen Time.
This is similar to point #1. There have been cold, rainy days during this quarantine where all I want to do is binge watch Netflix but keep it to a minimum. Spending your entire day in front of a screen makes the time go slower. Cut yourself off, and go do something else, preferably something that stimulates your brain like reading or making a puzzle.
4. Do the Optional Work.
My parents have enforced a rule in my house where anything optional that my brother’s teachers assign is instead required. Maybe it’s because both of my parents work in education, but the rule is still important. Let’s not forget that this quarantine is not a vacation. Keep your children’s brains sharp by having them complete the quick lessons their teachers have put together. If your child may need help, try to schedule “schoolwork time” when someone is available to lend a hand. If children are stomping their feet about getting it done, it might help to set up a reward system. 30 minutes of reading can get my youngest brother an additional 15 minutes of Xbox in my house.
5. Communicate a Plan.
Take the time to discuss your schedules for the day with everyone in the household. If parents have overlapping calls or someone has an important deadline, disclose that information ahead of time. That way, parents and kids can have a better sense of the expectations that day and can plan accordingly.
6. Enjoy the Quality Time.
Although this is an incredibly scary and unsettling time, it’s also giving me time with my family that I wouldn’t normally have. I live on my own in an apartment but chose to quarantine at my parents’ house so I wouldn’t be alone. Every night we try to take the time to do something together. We’ve watched home videos, played board games, cooked, even brought out the old Wii and had some intense Mario Kart races. In a time of such uncertainty, take a few minutes to share a smile or laugh with those you are quarantined with.