Juggling work and kids is so hard. Of course you don’t want to let your children down when they need your help or attention. Of course you want to be a responsible employee who gets the job done.
When it comes to juggling work and kids during a virtual learning scenario, one size does not fit all. There are different solutions for different situations. Some parents can rely on the help of a grandparent. Some parents can hire a babysitter to guide their children through the academic day. Some parents buddy up with other families to create pods and share responsibilities. Unfortunately, we don’t all have access to these solutions.
If you are trying to do your job and help your child simultaneously, this advice is for you!
First, if appropriate, without whining or complaining, let both your children’s teachers and your employer know your situation. In some cases, if you are extremely lucky, approaching an understanding employer will make all the difference in the world. They are people, too, and many of them have kids. They may be experiencing similar challenges. As for your children’s teachers, if they know that a parent is not always available, a good teacher will go the extra mile to check in with your child and make sure they know what to do. When it comes to multitasking, communication is key.
Second, our kids need to understand that they have their “school space” and we have our ”work” space. Although we can certainly expect interruptions, we need to do what we can to minimize them. The children need to respect our workspaces and refrain from barging in. Set boundaries. They aren’t used to leaving us be while we work. If we don’t express our needs, the children won’t know how to act.
Another solution involves giving your children a solid chunk of time with you during at least one of their breaks. If we constantly put them off with “daddy’s working” or mommy’s working,” they will keep trying to get our attention, and we will get less work done overall. If, on the other hand, we give them solid, uninterrupted attention during one of their breaks, asking them about school, pushing them on a swing, coloring together, etc., they will feel better and will be more likely to accept that there are times when we must focus on work.
Finally, as much as we want to put the screens away at the end of the day, it’s important to make sure your children practice using their instructional technology when you are available to help them. It may be frustrating or difficult to troubleshoot their technology issues during the school day, but if you give them some off-hours assistance, it will pay off in the form of fewer interruptions.