5 things HR recommend staff to balance work & family during COVID-19

With the country in lockdown, many employees have been asked to continue working – but from home. And while a lot of us may have had experience working remotely before, for others it is a whole new experience and it has taken time to adjust. This may be even more challenging for parents with children at home, juggling childcare and being an overnight teacher alongside work responsibilities.

The Government closed all schools in the UK as of 23 March 2020 for the majority of students. Teachers had very little time to prepare study materials, and they didn’t know how long the closure would last. Most schools and teachers have done an amazing job with their preparation and have sent children home with homework, but socialising and staying active plays a huge role in education and growing up, too – all of which can be hard to replicate remotely. Luckily, there are a lot of resources being made free online to keep children active and occupied.

Here are five tips HR can share with staff who are working from home while also homeschooling.

1. Keep children in a routine

A strict routine will be difficult to follow straightaway; it will take some trial and error to establish a schedule, and things may change. But an attempt at consistency will help both you and your children a lot – especially for productivity and mental health.

Begin by trying to set an earlier start time to your workday. Give yourself a couple of hours alone to do some work before the children get up – this of course only works if you don’t have a family of early risers!

Organise your activities so you know what can be done with the children present and what you need total isolation for. If your children are old enough to understand, communicate with them about the times you need to be alone, and explain that it is time for them to be independent, too. For younger children, where possible organise a childcare schedule with another adult in the household so you can each have alone time.

2. Staying active and social

With no playground to run around in or to socialise with their friends, consider being less strict with screen time, giving children time online to video call friends or to do homework together.

Children have a lot of energy and they need an outlet for it. Body coach Joe Wicks, is streaming P.E. classes every weekday morning at 9am. Of course, your children don’t have to do this in the morning, you could let them do the activity when you need to keep them occupied for half an hour (for that important meeting for example).

There is also the one outdoor exercise allowed each day where you can take your children out for a walk – you can avoid busy parks with a walk around your local streets instead.

3. Inspire creativity with art and more

Art lessons are usually a favourite for children because they are fun and they can express their creativity. Hand them some crayons and paper and they might just wonder away for hours in their imagination. Or, they could have some more organised fun with drawing lessons every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 with Rob Biddulph.

You don’t have to limit creativity to just art. There are craft and cooking activities which can get the whole family involved, too. With the lack of pasta instore, why not try making your own pasta? The trick is to find the of activities that children can do on their own versus those they need supervision for.

4. Continue the learning experience

Celebrities and companies are offering free lessons during this pandemic. David Walliams is releasing a free audio book every morning and Carol Vorderman is offering free maths lessons for 4-12 year olds. On top of their assigned homework from school, this could be something extra for children to do.

5. Virtual field trip

End-of-year school trips won’t be possible, but virtual tours of museums and galleries around the world are a close second place (and can be enjoyed without crowds!). Make it into a fun activity: ask children to sketch something or write a report on a new object they’ve discovered, and then maybe visit the museum in real life in the future. A lot of virtual tours allow you to have a 360-degree view and you can click around to explore as if you’re really there.

The current situation is affecting everyone, and has made homelife especially complicated for families balancing work and their children’s needs. For many of us, it’s probably the first time we’ve spent so many hours at home with family.

Finding creative ways to work through this period will help it pass that much faster and be more enjoyable for everyone.

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