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Juggling Child Care with Telework? Here Are Some Tips

Three children laying on a couch with a laptop.
This is the first in a series of compilations of answers to #NextChat questions of the day about how people are working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It feels like a snow day that never ends—working from home while keeping an eye on your kids now that schools are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. How do you attend to your children's needs while answering to your boss, clients and co-workers?

The following is a compilation of responses from a question posed on social media by Mary Kaylor, SHRM-SCP, in the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM's) department of public affairs and strategic communications. Responses are from LinkedIn and Twitter to Kaylor's question of the day.



1. Schedule Check-Ins, Projects

On LinkedIn, Alyssa Holmes, associate service manager for Tesla Mobile Services in the greater Boston area, wrote:

Providing them with projects. Keep in mind that our perception of time is relative. One hour to a 30-year-old parent may feel more like five-and-a-half hours to a five year old child (their summers last forever right!?). Just have proper expectations and understanding why it feels like they are constantly at your door. It most likely doesn't seem that way for them. I adapted to this by giving my son fun sets of tasks with check-ins. For example, I might ask him to draw me four elaborate pictures and deliver them to me like mail. At lunch we can open them together. Or to create a puppet/puppet-show (including tickets) for me to watch on my break. It allows time to focus on work while establishing many brief connections we can look forward to throughout the day. However, it doesn't always work because, well, kids ... :-)

Trupti Kapoor, human resources coordinator for AVIXA, a nonprofit association in Fairfax, Va., wrote:

Plans may differ based on various factors like age of kids, their interest etc. As adults we just have to manage this additional task with care compassion and discipline. just plan your day and their day ahead of time and it should mostly help. Daily check in before or after your work hours to let them know what they can do and what they cannot. Ask about their plans. Get creative: Bonus points and rewards could help in whatever forms one can provide and they can find fun in.


Kristy D. Smith, SHRM-SCP, author and an assistant professor of management for the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, Alaska, said:

We have created a 'workspace' for our kindergartene in the office so he can 'work' while we work. We also maintain our school time schedule routine set bedtime and awake time. During the day, we remain flexible to his needs. I have worked from home for more than 3 years to it is easier for me during this time to be flexible.


Catese Shirer, SHRMP-CP, HR business partner and manager at the New York State Housing Finance Agency/State of New York Mortgage Agency in the greater New York City area, said:

Working parents should plan a schedule for their kids and make them "in charge" of it. Kids love being leaders, so use that enthusiasm. Schedule activities throughout the day that lasts for 1 - 2 hours (coloring, arts and crafts, reading time, fun games, and writing stories/letters to family members, etc.) A schedule will help them stay focused while allowing you to focus on your work. At the end of the day reward your kids by making their favorite meal or watch their favorite TV show or movie. Check out my article for more work from home tips.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Through Flu and Other Epidemics in the Workplace]

2. Learning Takes Many Forms

Ashley Payne, a public education information management system clerk at the Gulf Coast Trades Center in Conroe, Texas, wrote on LinkedIn:

Talk to your kids, let them help create their schedule, and be flexible. Learning is not always in a "take home packet". Kids can learn fractions while cooking, spelling and [learn] handwriting practice while sending notes to the family members we miss, science while planting a garden. My daughter loves art so we have been painting and coloring every day.

On Twitter, Tamara McCulloch, certified everything DiSC workplace facilitator, special projects manager and instructional designer in Raleigh, N.C., tweeted:

Danielle Toddy, HR director at Rocky Mountain Conference in Denver, tweeted:

3. Let It Go

Tessa Brown, HR manager, CCI Pipeline Systems in Breaux Bridge, La., tweeted:

4. Plan Meals, Snacks

Josh Rock, a recruiter and sourcing strategist at M Health Fairview, a hospital and health care company in Minneapolis, tweeted:

5. You're Not Alone

David Kovacovich, business development director at Minneapolis-based BI Worldwide, tweeted:

David M. Arrington, Ph.D., executive leadership coach for Arrington Consulting based in Norfolk, Va., and author of Promotable: How to Demonstrate Your Value, Highlight Your Potential & Land Your Next Promotion (Arrington Coaching, 2020), tweeted:

6. Recess Is Your Friend

PowerUp Leadership posted:

You got to take an hour (or more) each day to get your kids outside or you will both drive each other #crazy.


Wendy Kelly, SHRM-CP, HR manager at Broward Children's Center based in Pompano Beach, Fla., tweeted:

Kelly Kranor, organizational development manager for Union Pacific Railroad, Omaha, Neb., posted:

A shout out to all parents working remotely, and juggling work and home schooling responsibilities. I keep telling folks that this is by far the most challenging scenario when it comes to a remote work environments. 👏🙌👏🙌


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