Surviving Remote Learning and Working
By Anne Marie Williams,
today at 12:59 pm
today at 12:59 pm
Hello you, parent or caretaker of small children, trying to navigate e-learning. I see you, and I know it sucks. Know that no matter what tips I post here, it’s still going to suck, but hopefully these tips help it suck less for you:
1. Change your work hours: I only attend meetings and do whatever is immediately “on fire” during the normal work day. I leave my computer open and answer my phone/texts, but the actual work I do now happens between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. The kids are winding down at this time, or in bed, and that makes it easier to tackle work that requires concentration.
2. Sunday nights are for planning: I prep all meals for the week on Sundays, and plan my work schedule on Sunday nights. I keep a bin in the fridge with “free foods” for my kids. “Free foods” are foods that kids can eat whenever without asking. Things like cheese cubes, fruit, pretzels,dried fruit, homemade muffins, bottles of water, carrot & cucumber shapes (we use bento veggie cutters to make the veggies into cute shapes), and yogurt tubes. This has cut down on the kids asking me for food every ten minutes while I am trying to pay attention to conference calls. The “free food” box gets prepped on Sunday for the week.
3. Drain the batteries: I try to take my lunch outside with the kids, no matter what the weather is. The goal is to feed the kids and get them to run around in the fresh air and sunshine so they are more tired in the afternoon and therefore more likely to nap.
4. Become a C-Student: During a pandemic isn’t the time to strive for more and stand out at work. My goal is to be average and try to get done what I need to get done, and nothing more. I feel guilty about this, since I am a type-A kind of person, but I know I will feel guilty for ignoring my children all day if I did focus on working more. I’m always going to be a parent, I may not always be an automotive engineer.
5. Working Outside/Away from Home: Working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay home. I have created a hotspot with my phone and worked from campgrounds and the lake (though the kids aren’t allowed in the water unless I am with them), The family motto has become “there is no bad weather, just bad clothes.” The kids were fascinated with sitting in a tent while a rainstorm passed, even though they weren’t being actively entertained. I was able to pay attention to all my meetings, they got fresh air and new experiences. Leaving the house, albeit in a safe manner, is always a good idea when working from home.
6. Ask for Help: I don’t typically ask for help or delegate, but this pandemic has taught me that no woman/man is an island. I have relied heavily on family to watch my children, even if it’s just for one hour while I present to executives in the other room. I have relied on coworkers to help me complete tasks, if they have the bandwidth. Prior to the pandemic and working from home, I never would have even asked. In return, if I have bandwidth, I help them out too.
7. Make a De-Stress Day: Once or twice a month, I leave and do something just for myself. I can either take a vacation/personal day, a sick day, or make it on a Saturday. The point is to get away from all responsibilities and just be alone, without anyone asking or expecting anything from me. I tend to go to secondhand stores and just browse.
8. Don’t have a Dedicated Work Space: I find that just following my kids where they are works best for me. Sometimes they want to watch TV, so I work from the living room where they are. Sometimes they want to play with their toys, so I work from the hallway outside their bedroom. This works for my kids because they feel like I am present and not ignoring them while I am working.