When Home Blends Online Work & Virtual Learning

Healthy Habits Make These Virtual Worlds Coexist

Posted Mar 30, 2020

Telework intertwined with virtual school and/or daycare. This new norm continues, but the stress doesn't have to overcome you, especially when it comes to health, planning your day, and getting along.

Separate work spaces or ones nearby. There's no one-size-fits-all in this pandemic.
Source: Pixabay

Forget ideal office space but aim for ergonomics. Use wherever works in these circumstances, but make ergonomics a priority. Propping up poorly with a laptop once resulted in back spasms, landing me in the ER—a place we all wish to avoid during a pandemic. Now could be the time to get what you need for the proper computer, keyboard, and chair alignment you require.

Separate but near, if necessary. Some couples separate themselves, conference calls or Zoom lessons with a town home floor in between. Others have commandeered a walk-in-closet. If your job doesn't demand calls or meetings, and your school-aged child requires your motivating supervision, set up a workspace near you for virtual school.

Communicate with White Boards. When kids are in their lessons and adults on Zoom conferences, write key items on a larger white board for all to see the daily plan, lunch or dinner menu. Most stores offer dry-erase boards and other school supplies on sale in mid-September. Change this up daily. Purchase small 5x7 white boards to have by your side as well. Encourage everyone to use these and it will become a new habit, hopefully avoiding interruptions.

Get moving. We’re killing ourselves with a sedentary lifestyle. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoors merely to walk, bike or run. Even indoors, get on the floor and stretch, engage your kids in a round of jumping jacks, laugh at your inability or prowess at pushups.

Prioritize and plan your day. A whiteboard helps to keep kids and adults focused and on track. Transition is hard especially for kids with attentional lag or learning challenges.

Working with Kids at Home Is a Juggling Act
Source: Pixabay

Cooperation from your kids stems from the three C’s: connection, emotion coaching, and good communication. Add in positive sentiments that override negative ones and you have a survivable atmosphere. Teach your children to label their emotions with feeling words; realize that you don’t have to agree with how they feel, but merely listen and repeat back that you understood. That’s active listening.

Use empathy. Even when your kids find everything annoying. If they haven’t yet, they will. Everyone’s expectations are dashed these days. A response such as “well, you think that’s bad, try…” will be seen as one-upping or defensiveness. Others may really flood with emotion, and if so logic and reason escape. Attend to feelings first. Always.

Make gratitude a daily habit. I learned as a divorced, single parent once to celebrate little things. One friend, in particular, would exchange daily events with me by telephone then we'd recite three things we were happy about or looked forward to. It never failed to set the right tone.

After work and school, spend a quality half hour each day with each child. Read. Play. Teach a new task and make it fun. When kids make mistakes, share what it’s like when you make your own. Praise more than you correct, and if you must, do so gingerly and with understanding. Children learn more if we teach rather than criticize. In fact, criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are four factors that unravel any relationship.

Buy solo work time with TV or movies. Some parents who have overseen school work, catch up on their own in the evenings. They use entertaining and educational films and tv shows that embrace social/emotional wellbeing or important life lessons when they opt for the History, Smithsonian and PBS channels.

Shutterstock/L Oberlin
Writing and computer-based work make ideal side careers
Source: Shutterstock/L Oberlin

Have your teen bolster work-at-home skills. Teens in this time of social distancing, no extra-curricular activities or traveling sports teams can develop skills and be a part of the at-home gig economy. I started freelancing right after college, wishing I’d have started as a young adult. Stats tell us that nearly half of all workers will be involved in a side hustle or second job. It's a win-win as your child invests in his or her future.

If they (or you) have a computer, graphic design, writing or other skills, they/you could add to your bank account, boost your self-esteem, and put something new on a resume or LinkedIn profile. My latest book Writing To Make Money: Short Projects can help many to get started and recoup the minor investment many times over.

Copyright @ 2020 by Loriann Oberlin. All rights reserved.

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