COVID-19 / Lifestyle / Remote work

‘Please excuse any weird noises you may hear’: How these parents are handling childcare while working from home

For some, it's about finding balance and routine in the day, as well as levity — like calling your kids "coworkers."

A school-age girl working on homework. (Photo courtesy of Comcast)
Many working parents already juggled childcare between meetings, work travel and long days at the office.

But parents all over the country (and the world, really) are now faced with unique working conditions — being forced to work from home while schools are closed for at least the next few weeks, thanks to COVID-19. Some parents have also been tasked with homeschooling or leading digital learning for their school-aged children.

So, a few days in, how are they making it work?

Alyson Kuritz, director at public relations firm Zer0 to 5ive, said in an email that one of the biggest burdens so far is financial. She and her husband are still paying for daycare despite her young daughter not being able to attend. 

Her husband is currently home from work because of an injury, so he’s caring for the 21-month-old during “office hours,” Kuritz said, but there’s times she has to step in between calls or meetings. Kuritz’s mom being nearby is also a help, she said.

“My office already had a policy where we work from home two times a week (Wednesday and Friday), but my daughter, Faith, is normally at daycare, so I have peace and quiet,” Kuritz said. “I am definitely on mute on calls much more often.”

Luckily, perhaps, everyone seems to be in the same boat.

“It’s much easier now, than say if it were an individual situation that meant you had to work from home with your kids,” she said. “It’s a sense of ‘oh yeah, you too … been there … Please excuse any weird noises you may hear … etc.”

Family has also been a large part of making it work for Chris Vito, senior director of strategic communications at LaSalle University.

Vito told via a Twitter DM that given the circumstances, it’s working well.

“It’s coming together thanks to support from family, who have provided help with my two young boys,” he said. “The system isn’t without the occasional interruption — an unscheduled break to color with crayons, read a book, or enjoy a snack.”

In Wednesday’s The Broadsheet newsletter from Fortune, editor Claire Zillman shared sentiments from parents about how they’re making it work.

One woman said her family has tried to “automate” as much as possible by coming up with a structured day.

“I’ve even mapped out all of my soon-to-be 5-year-old’s snacks each day and am packing his lunch at night. Anything to eliminate decision making during the day so my brain can focus as much as possible on work,” she wrote.

Another woman said to consider deputizing your kids as your official interns and giving them work.

“If you have a home computer, get them to open up an [Excel] sheet or PowerPoint and let them play around,” she wrote. “My daughter loves being ‘in office’ with me at home.”

On Twitter, many parents weighed in on how they’re making it work. A handful of parents said that it’s about finding balance and routine in the day.

A few parents said for now, it’s going “OK.” That might be all we can ask for at the moment, right?

There are many fine suggestions to call your kids “coworkers” from here on out.

A handful said they have to explain that it’s not vacation time, including NextFab CFO Ken Tomlinson.

So, while we all adjust to this new WFH situation over the next few weeks, props to parents who are making it work with their kids at home.

Series: Coronavirus

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