Working From Home With Children
We know many parents need to coordinate the balance of work and care for their child at home right now. Covid-19 has closed schools and forced parents to stay at home and work while caring for children. While this isn’t always an easy task, we hope the three tips below can help ease your family into this transition.
Preparing Your Environment
Preparing a space for your child to work while you work will be valuable for getting moments to be productive. A workspace for your child doesn’t have to be huge, and should be included in the area you do your work. There will be times when you are unable to give full attention to your child and need to just keep your eye on your child while attending to something else.
The work area prepared will depend on the age of the child. Freedom of movement is important in this area. For infants, this may be a blanket or rug on the floor. For toddlers, you will need to allow for more movement and exploration. Here are some further tips to consider:
- Remove items from the environment that are unnecessary and distractions. Remove any items that you do not want children to touch.
- Define the space. Select a room where the door can be closed so that active toddlers are provided limits. Select a few favorite items for the child to select and work with while you work. Too many items will overwhelm and overstimulate your child.
- Communicate to your child your expectations for the child to work while you do your work. Initially, they may only be able to self-entertain for a brief time, but you will notice the ability to increase this time if practiced each day and maintained at a routine time.
Establish Order and Consistency
Order and consistency are important at all times for a young child. It is difficult to maintain order and consistency as an adult when our own schedules, patterns and routines are being interrupted. However, it is necessary to work toward establishing working schedules and routines for your child to provide predictability, which will help your child develop behavior regulation.
Click to see sample schedules for an infant, toddler and primary students that are similar to their day at school. Evaluate the needs of all family members and begin developing a schedule that collectively works. The more consistency offered from one day to the next, the less likely behavior issues will develop that cause interruption to the schedule.
Co-Regulation Is Key
Co-regulation is managing your own behavior and your emotions, knowing that your child uses you as a foundation for his or her own self-regulation. In addition, it is knowing how to help acknowledge your child’s cues and needs and provide language that guides the development of his or her own self-regulation skills.
Remember, co-regulation is successful when you remember to take care of yourself. During uncertain times and when you are trying to balance new challenges within your family, self-care becomes a low priority. It is important to recognize your needs as well so that you can maintain the care of your child. – and all members of the family. The truth is, if you don’t take care of yourself, physically and emotionally, it will become much harder to take care of your child and everything else that you need to manage. Without enough sleep and nourishment, you might feel tired and unable to think clearly. You will have less energy to get through long days. It might feel harder to cope, solve problems, and to keep your emotions in check. It is normal to feel stressed and impatient at times, but if you are completely worn down, those feelings might be overwhelming and will impact your ability to care for others. Please remember to care for yourself during this time.