Working from home with kids: 10 tips for parents

March 26, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

The information in this article may change at any time due to the changing landscape of this pandemic. Read the latest on COVID-19.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has us all in unfamiliar territory.

Life looks very different as families across the country are stuck at home. Parents who are fortunate enough to work remotely are doing so, but that has its challenges, too.

You will all need to adjust your expectations. You may need to change your work style to find interrupted work time. Your kids will need to accept the fact that playdates and social outings must be put on hold for now.

How can families juggle working from home with kids without losing it? Here are 10 tips for parents:

  1. Set ground rules.  Let your kids know what the rules are for the week. Just because you’re home with them doesn’t mean you can cater to them all day — you have a job to do. Put limits on your kids’ screen time but keep them loose and try not to stress about it.Set up a reward system to encourage good behavior.

  2. Create a routine. A routine will help give structure, stability and sanity to your days. Plus, kids thrive on routine. Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Get dressed in regular clothes (get out of those pjs!). Make a daily schedule and allot times for meals, schoolwork, “recess”/breaks, TV/screen time, chores, etc. Keep it somewhat flexible. Hang it on the fridge where your family can see it.   

  3. Choose distraction-free workstations. Find a dedicated workstation for each family member to do their work without distractions like chores or TV getting in the way. It doesn’t have to be a desk, you can use your kitchen or dining room table. If possible, try to work in a room with a door that closes.

  4. Do your best with home schooling. It can be difficult to balance your child’s schoolwork with your own work. Try your best; it doesn’t have to be perfect. Let the school know if you encounter challenges. If your school doesn’t offer virtual learning, check out free online educational resources to keep kids busy, such as: National Geographic Kids, PBS Kids, Star Fall, ABCya, FunBrain, TIME for Kids and

  5. Stay active, take fresh air breaks. Schedule time for exercise to keep your family moving as much as possible. Have a dance party, do yoga, try an online fitness class, make a homemade obstacle course. Try GoNoodle, Cosmickids and Just Dance Now. When the weather permits, head outside for a walk, a bike ride, basketball, tag or drawing with chalk on the driveway. Just be sure to stay 6 feet away from anyone outside of your household.

  6. Give your kids age-appropriate chores. Giving your kids responsibilities around the house will help them feel productive. Examples include: folding laundry, doing dishes, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, feeding/walking a pet, cleaning their bedroom, etc. Even better, have your kids to make cards for hospital workers, nursing home residents, etc.

  7. Stay connected virtually. Social distancing can be isolating. Encourage your kids to stay connected with friends over text or video calls (e.g., Facetime, Skype, Zoom). Facebook Messenger for Kids offers text and video chat options, while parents can fully monitor the activity. You should stay connected, too, through phone or video calls with coworkers, family and friends.

  8. Encourage independent time. Find age-appropriate things your kids can do by themselves when you need to be most productive at work. Examples include: reading, crafts, drawing, puzzles, Legos, journaling, writing a letter to a friend, building a fort, etc. There are plenty of free apps that offer games for kids. You can even ask family members to be “virtual” babysitters to read/talk to your kids while you’re working.

  9. Manage your own stress. Your kids are going to take their cues from you for how scary the situation is, so try to be reassuring and find ways to handle your own stress. Let your child know that this is a temporary change and won’t last forever. Limit your intake of COVID-19 news to once a day (and when the kids aren’t around).

  10. Have fun as a family. At night and on weekends, find activities your family enjoys and can do together. Examples include: board games (e.g., Pictionary, Guess Who, HedBanz, charades), puzzles, movie nights, cooking together, scavenger hunts (indoor or outdoor), etc. This is an opportunity to bond with each other, so make the best of it.

We’re all in unfamiliar territory right now. It isn’t easy. But we will all get through this.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, our top priority is the safety and protection of patients, staff, physicians and the community. For updates on our planning and response efforts as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check

Get more information about coronavirus from Healthy Driven Chicago.

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