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Top tips for parents working at home with kids during coronavirus

24 March 2020

For most working parents, work and parent roles don’t usually overlap, but the next few weeks mean that a lot of worlds are going to collide – and in a small space. And there is LOTS of information out there, telling you how to homeschool and how to schedule.

It’s day 2 and your brand new mini co-worker is marching up and down, blowing a whistle, dressed in a Batman onesie with a golden crown and demanding snacks.

We’re in uncharted territory and there are no rules or set advice that you should feel that you need to follow when it comes to working from home with kids. Pick and choose whatever works for you and your family. And change it if it doesn’t. It’s just not possible to do everything at the same time, or to the same ability that we would usually, so don’t put pressure on yourself to do it all.

What will your kids remember about this time together? It’s no longer about who’s #winning at anything and all about community, family and taking care of each other. We asked our network for a few quick tips and resources to help us all keep going (and try to stay sane).

  • Disruption is inevitable – don’t expect business as usual, says Matt Collins from Platypus Digital. Think about what’s really essential – identify what work *really* has to get done and prioritise it.
  • Be honest and realistic with your co-workers or clients. Little things, like letting your kids say hello at the start of a video call so they feel included and everyone knows they’re there, can help to take the pressure off.

The CharityComms on Zoom

  • Get your kids involved and make them feel like they’re doing work with you. Parminder Kalsi, marketing manager at nim design, suggests having a work-station for them too so that they feel equal and just as important. Letting them “teach” you can also work wonders!
  • Schedules are great, but not always easy to stick to, so don’t laminate any of those brightly coloured weekly learning charts just yet… It does help to break up your day into work time and kid time if you can. For kids, it’s reassuring to have a schedule and know that they will have dedicated time with you. For you, it’s getting a block of focused work in, while everyone else logs into Spelling Shed, paints a dragon or just watches TV. But each day is different and what works one day might not the next. And that’s ok.

Make a chalkboard schedule

  • Video calls are not just for work. Set up chats with your kid’s friends for them to talk, show each other toys or play board games.
  • There should always be time for a day-time dance party, says Anjali Goswami, Research Leader in Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum.
  • The parent chat on WhatsApp, the class Facebook group, the gifs on Microsoft teams – it can all just get too much… Turn off notifications that you don’t need and follow positive, inspiring social media accounts.

And finally, as Richard Berks, a freelance science writer for charities, says, be kind to yourself – “Looking after children can be lots of fun and really rewarding – but there are plenty of other moments which are less than Instagram-able. But nobody’s perfect and no one’s an expert. So, don’t be too hard on yourself, and just know that doing the best you can is good enough.”

Let us know about any other tips or resources you’ve found helpful, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can support you in any way.


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Photo: Emma Matthews on Unsplash

Sarah Clarke

head of membership, CharityComms

Sarah is the Head of membership at CharityComms. She's dedicated to growing and improving the membership experience for our fantastic network of charity communicators. Previously, Sarah worked in marketing and membership roles for a variety of arts and education organisations in the UK and the US. She is a trustee of the Dance Professionals Fund and is part of the comms group for Charities Against Hate.