My top tips for when your both working at home with the kids

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With the world seemingly trapped at home, being guilty or disturbed are the two states that I have often found myself lately in. Both my wife and I are working at home, attempting to also manage two kids. It’s inevitable that you are given the choice of either feeling guilty for giving them the tablet or suffer constant interruption whilst trying to work. Working to manage a procurement software business and with my wife working as a relocation consultant, it is common that we both find ourselves on calls at the same time. There hasn’t seemed any no simple solution, just a raft of ideas that sometimes help. I would like to share some here of what has worked for us and would love to hear from others.

1. Take some time out, it is inevitable. I have heard of some parents who have managed to split their days and work later to manage the kids, although this is difficult with calls at any time during the day. Invariable we both try to find some time with the kids such as:

  • Joe Wicks 5 minute workout in the morning
  • Some joint reading over lunch (although good luck keeping the other occupied)
  • A quick walk around the block, to get some sunshine
  • Attempting some homeschooling [We have found the Scholastic books very good and also https://www.twinkl.co.uk/]

2. Create a currency system. One piece of great advice was to give the kids coins each day that they can spend on sweets or fruit etc… This does need a bit of thought. Originally we created the currency and had a chocolate biscuit at 1 credit and ice cream at 5 credits. However, they soon realised that even though they wanted ice cream, they could have 5 chocolate biscuits instead…and no fruit. So then we had to devise a currency with 3 different types of coins, one for sweets, one for fruits and the other for cheese and biscuits. Guess you just have to find the right one for you.

3. Segregate the day into slots with rewards. Another great bit of advice we were given was to divide the day up and give the kids choices of succinct fun activities during the day. Keep them short (30-90 mins each or so) and offer rewards if they do it well. So, for example, Monday morning you can do painting, crafts, lego, “Which one do you want to do first and if you do all three you get the tablet”. You can combine it with the currency system and gives variety. One family who lives close by, mixed in the currency system. The kids had to use their credits to buy cool crafting materials. However, it does sometimes take a bit of time to get them into the tasks…horses..water…

4. Find some new hobbies. What they miss out in school they can make up for in other ways. I took the opportunity to get my ‘son’ a remote control car, the same from my youth, a Tamiya for anyone who remembers. They still make them and I managed to spend 3 hours on a Saturday morning building and teaching my son about a differential gearbox. In all fairness, the jury is still out on whether this was for me or my children!

Ultimately don’t feel guilty was the best advice. Easier said than done. The ultimate challenge comes when you are both on conference calls and the only solution is to give them the tablets. Any prior planning goes out of the window.

However, in all honestly, there are lots of positives from the lockdown. The kids might drive you crazy with a desire to look at youtube videos of children playing with dolls or American teens pranking each other, but they are bonding phenomenally well. These two will remember this time forevermore. The enforced playtime has created a special bond between them that is wonderful.

P.S. Another suggestion from someone today (Thanks Claire) was “New Horizon – Meditation & Sleep Stories”. A good way to help the little ones overcome a few home fears such as monsters under the bed. I will try today.

PPS Another goodie (thanks Will) is https://www.themathsfactor.com/ from Carol Vorderman

June 9, 2020

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