Over the last few weeks, the world has experienced unprecedented events. The current situation with COVID-19 continues to develop rapidly, and it’s requiring parents to think outside the box to solve problems – from home. With their new, sometimes invasive co-workers. Their kids.
Parents don’t cease to be parents when their laptops are open, and kids don’t cease to be kids when Mom or Dad have back to back calls. Daily life has been turned upside down and with school and daycare closures, parents are trying to find ways to keep their kids healthy and busy while still working and not totally losing their minds. At SAS, our curiosity leads us to find unique and innovative solutions to challenges, and the family-work balancing act has been no exception. Since going virtual, the SAS family has leapt into action with resources and ideas to support parents and kids.
Supporting SAS families
When our HQ employees were directed to work from home due to coronavirus, our onsite childcare teachers quickly found creative ways to support children and their families from a distance.
Leslie Butterfield, Head Teacher, says, “Teachers are reading books, doing lessons, singing songs and sending easy ideas for things the children can do at home that are reflective of the classroom experience. Some classes have dropped off supplies at children’s homes. We’ve also mailed cards to the students, and there have been phone calls and FaceTime as well.”
She also acknowledges the potential for being overwhelmed amidst so much uncertainty and change: “One of the challenges for us as teachers is finding a balance of support for the children and their families without overwhelming them with ideas and information. We’re checking in with families individually to see what they need from us.”
It takes a village
Leslie also says that SAS parents are coming together to support each other with ideas and resources – “There’s a tremendous amount of creativity going on at home,” she says.
Jason Horne, Principal Enterprise Architect and father of three-under-five, created WhatsApp channels for his kids' childcare classes that helps teachers, kids and parents stay in touch. “I created the channels because I knew our kids missed seeing their friends and teachers. Even though my wife and I are quarantined, we still interact with our friends and co-workers through video chat and the magic of the internet,” he says. “What about the kids? They need to continue their own social connections too, and this gives them a way to connect with each other.”
The channels and others have been used to help parents and teachers creatively re-imagine the classroom experience, to the delight of all involved. “The teachers are recording themselves giving video lessons, reading story books, playing music and singing songs,” he says. “The kids love the familiarity of seeing their teachers and hearing familiar songs and stories.”
On occasion, the interactions have provided much needed positivity and inspiration, too. “On normal days when someone in my son’s class is out sick, the class sings a song called, “We wish you well” in hopes that the child will get better and return soon. During a recent virtual group time, the teachers led the kids in singing the song to each other since none of them were at school. It was beautiful.”
Making it work
We’re inspired by the creativity and dedication of our employees during this time. Looking for some ideas for how to juggle the day? Here’s what Jason and some of our SAS parents say is working for them:
- Take it day by day, making a schedule for what each individual day will look like. . Brainstorm activities the night beforehand so you’re not scrambling to find entertainment while you’re working.
- Take break times (for kiddos and parents!) for self-reflection as needed.
- Stay active with lunchtime walks, a picnic in the backyard or family yoga.
- Facetime with your kids’ friends to help them stay socially connected.
- Take breaks between meetings to read a book or play for a few minutes.
Embrace the chaos
Jason has one more piece of advice for other parents who are juggling work and kiddos – “Embrace the chaos,” he says. “Because the chaos will be there whether you choose to embrace it or not.”
While this time presents significant challenges, it also presents opportunities to share more of your life with your co-workers and strengthen your team. If your kids are making noise in the background while you’re on calls or in video meetings, know that it’s ok – we understand. And if they make a guest appearance on a Teams meeting? Great! It’s an opportunity for us to meet them.
We’ll get through this together – one day at a time.
And lastly, “Don’t stress about trying to keep the usual rules on screen time– there’s just more now,” says one parent.
For more examples and activities, check out these resources curated by our SAS Work/Life Center and onsite childcare teachers:
- Creative Ways to Keep Your Family Sane
- 50 Activities for kids to do while you work from home
- The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-learning, and Online Collections
- Daily Schedule Advice for ADHD Families Schooling from Home
Of course, every child and family is unique, and not every idea will work for everyone. But we hope that these resources will help you and your family as you navigate this new, temporary “normal.”
What are your best tips for working from home with kids? Share your tips, stories and encouraging words in the comments!