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#ParentHack: Managing School and Working From Home

Like many families, my husband and I braced for months of nagging, panicking, and bargaining during this challenging at-home COVID school year—while also trying to do our own work from home.

It’s a lot of togetherness.

Rules for Working at Home With Your Kids

To make it easier for all of us, we’re adopting some routines and boundaries and rules for working at home:

Separate spaces

We’ve created two kids’ work areas in our home, and these are separate from where my husband and I do our own work. The kids have taken over the dining room since no one is coming to dinner anytime soon, and it provides a nice long table to keep annoying siblings distanced. We also have a desk in our family room with a desktop computer and printer, so we can do random walk-throughs to make sure they’re staying on task. 

Supplies on hand

Before anyone had a chance to complain about not being able to find what they need to get their classwork started, we created a rolling cart of supplies that stays in the dining room where they spend most of the day. This will (hopefully) prevent any wandering into our offices and stealing supplies from our space. Pencils and pens, yes, but also a lot of the other supplies that classrooms normally have: staplers, hole punches, paper clips, and calculators, all ready and waiting to be kept track of by someone other than us adults. 

Rules for respect

Knowing that we’re in the house makes it all too easy for our teens to forget that we are also working. To prevent the incessant, “Mooooooooooooom” sounds from echoing through the house all day, we’ve established a rule for working at home: they treat us like colleagues instead. That means that during school and working hours, if they need us to come and figure out how to unjam the printer or decipher something in one of their online classes, they can send us a text that will be answered when it works best for us. Any challenges that come up during homework time in the evenings will be tackled like they always were, by asking whichever parent is available. 

While it’s important to us that we create a space and vibe that lends itself to learning, it’s just as important that our teens remember their parents need the same environment to do our work. None of us knows how long this will go on or how the future of schooling will unfold. One thing we can all do to succeed in this new normal is to establish some rules for working at home and learn how to mutually support each other. 

Louise Gleeson

Louise Gleeson is a Toronto-based freelance writer specializing in family life and parenting. She lives with her husband and four children, and she mothers everyone she meets. You can find her on Instagram or Twitter @louisegleeson.

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