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Balancing remote working and childcare during lockdown

A friend mentioned that it has been 6 months since we started working from home, and just like that most of 2020 is gone.

Despite what it says in the heading of this post, it might be cause for celebration, knowing that the year is almost over, but we aren’t out of the woods yet.

Many of us are in the situation of working from home, being furloughed, in the unfortunate position of being let go from work, or having to carry out more work due to its compulsory nature and/or inflexible deadlines. Alongside this, many of us have children to entertain or educate (depending on their ages).

The key to balancing work and childcare is to go with the flow. Easier said than done right?

Video/conference calls

After speaking with some friends who have roles that involve consulting, educating and presenting, trying to present on a call with a small child in the background can definitely be challenging.

Many firms are also giving advice around conference calls. For example, if you are taking part in a virtual conference, then make sure pets and children are occupied so they don’t disturb the call. However, when you have a young child, it’s sometimes not possible. They don’t always understand or have patience and sometimes they just need you.

If this happens, it is unlikely anyone will think less of you (given the current situation) if you excuse myself from the call for a minute, put the call on mute, deal with what needs to be dealt with and then come back. It is always good to have another colleague on the call so they can bridge the silence with perhaps some questions to the audience.

Where possible also try and hide the noisy toys before the call.

While we define our new normal, it is importance to define my working hours, tolerate the many distractions of working from home and concentrate on gradually adapting.

Interactive educational videos

Some reliable ways to occupy children are to create interactive video presentations using the likes of Doodly.

Create a 10-minute video talking directly to your child and go through something interesting, like numbers, letters, basic maths, phonetics and so on.

We received some feedback that this worked brilliantly for some individuals who had children aged 3-6 years, mainly because they were fascinated that they could hear their parent’s voice on the tablet or television screen.

If creating videos is not for you then there are plenty of other routes to take.

There are many online games and activities that your child can do on a tablet seated next to you while you are learning. A good one for 0-6 years is Cbeebies.

If your child is at school, many will have their own interactive online games and books on the school website. It is worth taking some time to show your child around the website so they can independently access it (age dependent of course).

You can record yourself reading a book, and let your child follow along using the book you used. This will help them learn, identify and read new words.

You can invest in some heavy-duty educational posters. You can obtain good quality packs from Amazon (links below), which include numbers, shapes, colours, alphabet, telling the time, basic maths, multiplication and fractions.

You can also purchase colourful maps of the world and the universe.

Educational wall posters

More educational wall posters 

Collins Solar system map

Collins World map 

However, we received a tip not to hang the posters too low on the wall, otherwise they turn from a good distraction to a bad, particularly at bedtime.

Keeping information for future COVID19 school projects

A friend mentioned that they are keeping a record of how the rules in the UK have changed and recording the developments and their experiences as it is likely that their child will have a project on COVID, or may need to write an essay on it in the future.

The material gathered includes recordings about  working from home, mask wearing, the behaviour of people at parks and supermarkets, and the increase of littering in parks.

Remember to have fun

Many parents, particularly during the stricter lockdown months baked cakes, and taught them how to cook food. This is a good habit to form when time permits as learning about what is in food and how creatively it can be prepared, not to mention how to cook the food correctly will affect health and nutrition.

If you are into drone flying, remote control cars and other hobbies for example, providing you are adhering to social distancing guidelines you can still participate in these.

Also remember your local attractions. They may also be suffering and many have reduced the admission prices.

Look after each other

As this is an unprecedented situation, I think it is important to remember that there is no rule book. We need to develop our own ways of dealing with our individual situations, and perhaps post them for others who are not coping so well. It is very easy for people to slip into a vortex of despair and some people do not cope so well being on their own.

It is important that we try and stand together and help one another in general, whether you have children or not. It is also worth bearing in mind that our children are the next generation. So while it is not ideal to put more stress on ourselves, or them, it is good for us to consider that we are the influencers of the future, but at the same time, if our children miss out on education, or time with us, encourage them to be resilient, and not give up. It may take longer, but there is always another way to achieve your goals.

Stay safe, healthy and hopefully happy.