The Kids Are Yelling and Work is Calling: How to Juggle It All

If you’ve been on calls with coworkers who are coping with stuck-at-home kids, you’re not alone. For words of wisdom on the topic, we invited ModSquad’s Sr. Director, Digital Engagement, Izzy Neis to share her first-person take on the best way to juggle the needs of children with the expectations of your employer.

A few weeks back, a lovely reporter asked us for some remote work tips for this new quarantine life. We’ve been sharing remote work tips for years in social media and blogs of yore. Working remotely is our “jam,” if you will.

But this? Quarantine is different. We live in a weird world and we’re balancing new challenges. Babysitters and nannies are practicing social distancing, homeschooling is a must, and, yep, even summer camps are getting cancelled. If you haven’t already, it’s truly time to embrace the 2020 inevitable — the kiddos are the new “coworkers,” folks.

Once upon a time, in a career life far, far away (some 20 years ago), I was an elementary school teacher and a camp counselor. Since that time, I’ve built communities and digital playgrounds for kids and adults. ModSquad pioneered remote work back in 2007 and has helped me perfect working from home, most recently coworking with a very vocal velociraptor baby.

So now the question is “How do I manage while remote working?” Or maybe it’s more “The heathens are loose, and I need to work.” (Kidding, they’re not heathens. Although if you bring your outdoor nest camera indoors to spy on your kids, no one will judge you). Here are some suggestions to help occupy your kids’ time:

  • Be real about your schedule. The good ole 9–5 with mini coworkers might need to be rethought. Organize your daily priorities, block out time for meals and outdoor breaks, and get the big stuff — those presentations — tackled after bedtime with a glass of wine and Enya.
  • Big 2 p.m. meeting? Play Trolls: World Tour on the TV in your bedroom (well, away from the conference call). Tell the kids there will be a test at the end of the movie, so they’ll need to pay extra attention. If they ace the test, they can have dessert for dinner. (Don’t mention the dinner-for-dessert part, though — they can figure that out later).
  • Read the kids Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, then put on orchestral movie soundtrack music (I highly recommend the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone score) and ask them to write a short story about what would happen if their favorite meal fell from the sky. The best story gets to choose dinner. (If writing isn’t a strength, art such as comic creations can be a wonderful alternative).
  • Two words: Trash. Toys. Toilet rolls, cereal boxes, rubber bands… they can make rad box castles, cakes, figurine houses, or instruments. This came as a recommendation from a few of my friends. It combines crafting with recycling with time-suck.
  • Do not underestimate the power of a tent. Construction, be it from camping gear or a sheet, can take time. Have an old white sheet you’re okay sacrificing? Let the kids decorate it with markers (trees, grass, birds, dogs, monsters, etc.). Go a step further and play camp, where you’re the camp counselor. Make a short list of chores, with which kids can earn badges and rewards.
  • But seriously, folks, prep food at night. Or be really proactive and plan, prep, and package the week’s feed on Sunday. You can make it a family affair.
  • The most random recommendation goes to the steel tongue drum. I recently bought one on a whim from Amazon. It’s incredibly soothing. Whenever my six-month-old gets fussy, I randomly hit a few notes and she zens out for like five minutes. Buys me a bit of peace with her, while also giving me some brief relief. Win-win.
  • And lastly, make sure you leave goodies for the UPS or Amazon drivers. I’ve got a box filled with water bottles and snacks out at the door whenever I know a package is due for delivery. They’re the unsung heroes here. I’ve ordered three giant activity mats that could not have been easy to lug around, particularly in the early days of the pandemic. We can’t thank the drivers enough for stickin’ it out on their routes when most folks were locked up tight.

Have your own great ideas, suggestions, or recommendations? Toss them in the comments below. The quirkier the better.

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Talk Back

Posted on May 14, 2020

great ideas! thanks for sharing.

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