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Teleworking Tips: Working from Home While Caring for Kids

Published Mar 18, 2020 by Maggie Martin

teleworking parent

Many Houstonians are working from home this week as they and their companies adjust to a new (temporary) normal in response to COVID-19 (see teleworking tips here).

For parents, it's an especially challenging time. Several area school districts, including Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD, and Katy ISD are closed through at least April 10. For the next three weeks, these area residents will juggle parenting while working from home.

Anna McKay is founder of Parents Pivot. It's career coaching for stay-at-home parents who want to return to paid work. She was also a guest on our Small Biz Insider podcast earlier this year. Below, McKay offers advice on working remotely from home while caring for kids. 
What are the greatest challenges for parents who are teleworking while caring for their kids?  
It really depends on the ages and temperaments of the kids. For parents with really young kids, teleworking and caregiving can be especially challenging because the children rely on adults to get so many of their needs met.

Give yourself and your children a little bit of grace here. Things aren’t going to get done as quickly as they used to and it is not going to be perfect. Reorganizing your schedule to have power working sessions during nap times, quiet times, or after they have gone to bed. Managing your work schedule with your partner's work schedule can help.

For employees and employers, realize that the kids' are home and there may be kids voices in the background on conference calls. Keeping conference calls to a reasonable length can go a long way.

One of the best tips for staying sane during this prolonged period at home is having a routine and schedule for what you are doing and what your kids are doing. As I mentioned before, it’s not going to be perfect, but this is so helpful for the whole family to understand expectations for the day. Plan this schedule with your children each day. Use picture cards to demonstrate the activities of the day to younger children. Older children can help write out the daily schedule. Involving them in the schedule as much as possible is key. Having a list or jar of "fun things to do” that they can pick from if they get bored or you have a phone call can be great.

What are some resources Houston parents might find most useful during this time, for themselves and their children?  

The Children’s Museum in Houston is closed, but they have free daily videos and experiments for kids. 

We love Epic! It is an app that has all sorts of videos with science experiments and creative explanations for math principles and tons of books for all age levels. For those kiddos learning to read, there are several “Read to me” books where the children can follow along as the narrator reads. There are books for older elementary-aged kids, too. 

What are the greatest challenges for you not only as a parent but also as a small business owner? 

As a small business owner, I rely on relationships with others to get work done. I am fortunate that most of my work can be done over the phone.

However, in-person networking and speaking engagements are one of the biggest ways that I build my business. A lot of that has had to shift online now. Following up with people that I have needed to reach out to or building my network through LinkedIn will be more a part of my work schedule in the next few weeks.

What advice would you give to Houston small businesses in terms of resources, assistance and keeping afloat through cancellations and closures?  

Support each other. A friend suggested buying gift certificates to local restaurants and small businesses. Look for ways to take your business online. Use the time to do some online learning. Check out the resources of the Small Business Administration.

As a career transition coach, I am often talking to my clients about transferable skills. What skills do you have that could be of service to people now? How can you translate that virtually?

One of the best antidotes for feeling helpless in uncertain times is to help others. Even if you are staying at home and social distancing from others, you are doing your part to help others by flattening the curve. What you are doing is making a difference, and that is huge.

The Partnership has put together a list of items companies should consider when preparing for and dealing with the impact of the coronavirus. 

The Partnership's Houston Coronavirus Resources guide provides information around the virus to businesses and individuals in our region. We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

Read our latest issue of Economy at a Glance. It looks at what we know about the COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on Houston as well as the plunge in oil prices.

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