If you’ve ever worked from home with little kids underfoot, even for a day, you know it’s no joke. Kids are demanding, work requires concentration—the two don’t exactly mix.
But the reality for many working parents is that the coronavirus is beginning to make its way through our communities. And that means many of us may soon find ourselves firing up our computers from home while we deal with kids who are off from school indefinitely. Add the potential for a self-quarantine on top of that and shit is about to get real.
We’ve given you advice before on working from home when the kids are off from school. But that’s for, like, a day or two. A bad snow storm. A couple of feverish days. Not the likes of which many parents may be about to experience with the days stretching out in front of them, running low on snacks and high on cooped-up energy.
Luckily for us, writer Lyz Lenz has been there, done that many times and she offers us lots of ideas on Twitter for how to survive an extended work-from-home situation with little kids.
So for the first six years as a parent I worked from home with babies and I want to say few things...1. It's totally okay to just let them play unstructured, it's fine! Let them be!
— Lyz Lenz (@lyzl) March 9, 2020
It’s worth a click through to read the whole thread, but I’ll summarize her 10 best suggestions for you:
1. Have a snack area or snack drawer for kids so they can help themselves (i.e., not bother you every 20 minutes). Let it be a snack free-for-all, at least for as long as supplies last.
2. Really need to get through a phone call? Set a timer for 30 minutes of quiet play. They can run screaming to you when it goes off (just make sure your call is no longer than 29 minutes).
3. Plop them in the bathtub. If they’re little (need to be supervised) and you have a laptop, bring it in with you and get another 30 minutes of mostly uninterrupted work time.
4. “Pipe cleaners and tape,” Lenz says. “Don’t ask, just hand them over, the damage is minimal, I promise.”
5. This is a build-an-epic-fort situation if ever there was one.
6. Let them play with toilet paper. You’ve stocked up, you’ve got plenty to spare.
7. Let them tear up old magazines. We’re desperate here.
8. Let them colour on themselves in washable marker. Lenz calls this game “tattoo parlor,” and her kids loved it.
9. Ignore them, let them be bored, etc.
10. But her best suggestion is, and I quote, “jfc who cares let them watch TV we are all just trying to live here.”
If you’ve done all of these and you’re only on Day Two, here are a few more ideas from the Offspring archives:
Of course, it’s also important to keep in mind that being able to work from home—even with little kids running amok—is a privilege that many workers don’t have. As challenging as it can be, it’s more challenging to not have the option at all.