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.
This week, next and possibly more. [Luckily?] my husband is still not back to work after an injury and my mom is nearby. What they say about it taking a village has never been more true!
— Alyson Kuritz (@alysonkuritz) March 17, 2020
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.
This is a great story in the making. I have two young children, and I'd be lost without my equally supportive family and workplace.
— Christopher A. Vito (@cvito_LaSalle) March 17, 2020
Vito told Technical.ly 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 2yo and 15yo in our house, husband and I are attempting to WFH. Trying to develop a better, more regular schedule has helped all of us, but definitely still finding our groove as we wait for word on 15yo school situation.
— Bethany Saxon (@bethanyrsaxon) March 18, 2020
first couple days have been all about finding a balance. work early, do some schoolwork, little more work, lunch, get 'em outside, quiet time while we work… biggest thing: reiterating to kids that we're all working together.
— Dave Clarke (@daveclarkeIV) March 17, 2020
A few parents said for now, it’s going “OK.” That might be all we can ask for at the moment, right?
Two kids: 2 and 4. My wife and I are both trying to balance working from home and child care. We're splitting up our days. It's going…ok.
— Steve App (@StephenApp) March 18, 2020
We were slated to send our little guy to start daycare next week, but they’re closed for now, so I’m working from home with a 7 week old colleague. It’s going ok.
— Eric Horvath (@EricHorvath) March 17, 2020
There are many fine suggestions to call your kids “coworkers” from here on out.
In an effort to provide smiles in these stressful times… Parents who are working from home: Tell us something your kids were doing, but call them your coworkers.
My coworker, during a "lunch and learn" suddenly stood up and screamed "EVEREST!!!", frightening a junior employee.
— Denise Wong (@DeniseTWong) March 17, 2020
One of my coworkers just told me her “butt feels smooth” and honestly, I’m contemplating and HR complaint.
— Jill Drews (@JillFDrews) March 17, 2020
A handful said they have to explain that it’s not vacation time, including NextFab CFO Ken Tomlinson.
I have 4 kids at home, trying to get through “This is not vacation time” and explaining why they can’t go to a friends house – it’s going to be a challenge
— Ken Tomlinson (@kentomlinson) March 17, 2020
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.
Parents new to working from home: There is nothing more delightful than breaking up a meeting for 30 seconds because your kid has to ask you something. Introduce them to whoever you’re meeting with, make them part of it. Life is work *and* family.
— maskvoltar (@maxvoltar) March 16, 2020
Shout out to all the parents working from home today. Yes I heard your kid in the background of this call. No it didn’t bother me. You’re a pro. I’m impressed. You got this.
— feminist next door (@emrazz) March 16, 2020