Working Remotely While Kids Are Home Part 1: Setting up an environment conducive to parents working

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Setting up an environment conducive to parents working and children learning.

During the outbreak, social distancing is recommended. Daycares and schools are closed. Children are learning from home and families are working from home. While normal childcare solutions are shut down, families find themselves in a position where they need to carve out blocks of time to work and keep their children engaged and learning. While it may seem overwhelming, there are many techniques to cope with this new way of being with children.

Setting up an environment conducive to parents working and children learning

Many families are now facing the daunting challenge of working from home while homeschooling their children. Here are some guidelines for setting up an environment conducive to parents working and children learning from Lesley Grossblatt, a veteran homeschool mom and Chief Product Officer at KQED.

Set realistic expectations for parents and kids.

  • Parents, realize you are not going to be as productive as you would be working from home without kids being around, much less working in the office. Parents should reset expectations with their boss and themselves and make a conscious decision to pause on anything that can wait until after the crisis is over.

  • Parents should recognize that they are not going to be able to reproduce the exact structure of school at home. It’s OK if what they’re doing at home doesn’t look exactly like school

Carve out 2-3 hour blocks of time where parents can focus on work.

  • The idea here is quality, not quantity, of time. While the block may only be an hour, if it’s a completely heads down, focused hour, that's great. 

  • It’s OK if the parent can’t carve out a completely focused block (e.g., kids are always awake when the parent is). The parent can create that block anyway and set the expectation that they will put work as the top priority during that block. Kids will be the priority during other blocks of time.

  • It’s realistic to get 1 of these blocks in per workday. The parent will still be able to do work at other times during the day but during distracted blocks.. It’s ideal to push all meetings and calls scheduled into the focused block.

Make sure the parent has somewhere to get work done during focused work blocks with minimal distractions.

  • If there is no separate room in the home, parent can create separation with headphones and/or visual cues like room dividers, plants, furniture, etc.

Make sure kids have somewhere to do their thing.

  • This can be a seat at the dining table, a corner of the living room, or even their bed. Some kids want/need a formal desk setup; that’s fine if they want that, but don’t push kids who are resistant to sitting at desks. That is not a battle worth fighting right now.

Create rhythms and routines vs hour-by-hour schedules.

  • Hour-by-hour schedules work in school or in offices, but not so well at home in the absence of external time pressures. Instead, think about blocks of time — focus time, collaborative time, free time; see the sample day below. This provides flexibility to adapt and respond while also providing some of the comforts of predictability and routine.

Triage and prioritize.

  • If the school is requiring assignments to be completed, parents should not ignore them. But parents should give their kids and themselves a lot of grace if the assignments don’t get them done, or only partially done. If parents find themselves getting into arguments about doing the work, it’s best to let it go. Their kids — along with many of their classmates who also won’t get everything done — will sort it out when they go back to school.

  • Bottom line — prioritize maintaining the parent and kids’ mental health at this time. This is an anxiety-filled, unsettling time for adults and kids. It’s important for parents to pick their battles about what’s most important right now. 

You and your kids will get through this. You’re stronger than you think. And don't forget, BGCEC is here to help. Check out our CLUBatHome Resources.

Sample day for working from home while homeschooling:

credit:, Lesley Grossblatt


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