Working from Home, Kids and All

Telework and home school don't have to stress us out.

Posted Mar 30, 2020

Shutterstock Purchase/L. Oberlin
Source: Shutterstock Purchase/L. Oberlin

Telework and home school are the norms of our time. Some of it seems like déjà vu. As I pulled two books I’ve written from my shelf, advice from each resonates so much today.

Forget ideal office space but aim for healthy. Use wherever and whatever works in trying circumstances, but it does help overall to 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. Now could be the time to get what you need for the proper computer, keyboard, and chair alignment while those stores can still deliver what you require.

Get moving. My writing book cites the experts and research, but suffice to say, 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 on track. Transition is hard especially for kids with attentional lag or learning challenges. It keeps adults focused on a schedule, too.

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.

Spend a quality 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. Make them entertaining and educational, however. I wrote a blog with this exact topic and filled it with suggestions for all ages with films that embraced social and emotional wellbeing, history lessons and more. Opt for television channels such as History, Smithsonian and PBS.

Consider bolstering your work-at-home skills. Even teens in this time of social distancing, no extra-curricular activities or traveling sports teams can think of developing skills and being a part of the at-home gig economy. I started freelancing right after college, so wishing I’d have started earlier as a young adult. In this decade, nearly half of all workers will be involved in a side hustle or second job. It might as well be you!

If you have a computer, graphic design, writing or other skills you could be adding to your bank account, boosting your self-esteem, and adding something worthwhile to your resume. 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