Balancing Working from Home and E-Learning: A Parent’s Guide

If the coronavirus crisis has led you to recently join the more than 5 million U.S. workers who work from home, you may still be settling into a routine.1 Adding homeschooling (or e-learning) into the mix can introduce additional complications. Fortunately, there are some tried and true tips from parents who have already spent years juggling working from home and schooling from home. Learn more about how you can achieve balance and help meet both your employment and educational goals.

For All Ages: Set Office Hours and Clear Expectations

Whether your kids are in kindergarten, their senior year, or somewhere in between, it’s important to begin the process by setting clear boundaries around your working life. When your kids know when you’ll be working (and when you’ll have time to spend with them), it will be far easier to obtain their “buy-in” of the process.

As part and parcel of these office hours, it’s also important to set clear expectations for your children’s behavior and productivity. This can mean completing a certain number of e-learning assignments per day, staying quiet while you’re on a conference call, or heading outside for some physical activity after lunch. If your children know that keeping up their end of the deal will mean that you keep up yours (by ending your workday at an agreed-upon time to spend time with them), they’ll be far more likely to work to achieve these expectations.

For Younger Kids: Create an Entertainment Box

Younger children can often have trouble keeping themselves entertained for hours at a stretch. Creating an entertainment box with fun (and educational) activities can help stave off cries of “I’m bored!” Consider stocking this box with markers, crayons, construction paper, safety scissors, glue sticks, and various other craft items.

Easy DIY bingo cards or scavenger hunt clue lists can also provide kids with a fun diversion. These can ask kids to list the number of square (or blue) items in your living room or try to guess how many beans are in a bag, or all of which combine learning with fun.

For Older Kids: Delegate Responsibilities

Middle school and high schoolers are better able to set their own hours and direct their own schoolwork than younger children. And when so many families are spending more time together than ever before, you may be able to delegate some responsibilities to your older children, like:

  • Planning and preparing a meal for the family
  • Learning how to complete a new chore, like mowing the lawn, shampooing the carpet, or power washing the house
  • Creating an online grocery list (and staying within a budget)

Encouraging your older child to perform these activities can endow them with useful life skills, enhancing their e-learning curriculum.

For You: Consider Shifting Your Work Hours

If you have the sort of job where you’re evaluated on the work you complete, not necessarily the time of day you complete it, it may be a good idea to shift your working hours to allow you to supervise schoolwork during the day, when teachers are available for questions. Single parents may be able to get the bulk of their work done after kids are in bed, while married or partnered parents can stagger work schedules to allow each working parent some uninterrupted time.

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