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Social Distancing + Remote Work Tips

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, many organizations have moved to incorporate social distancing recommendations, including remote working. This includes most schools across the United States closing in-person classes, and now many parents find themselves, not only working remotely, but trying to do so while educating their children.

It can be overwhelming, even for us—and we have lots of practice at this! The Internet has been flooded with tips and tricks on how to manage it all, and what we find, like most things, is that someplace in the middle is the best spot to land. All you can do is your best, and we should all walk away from this time of social distancing feeling a little more rested and centered, not stressed.

You have to find what works for you, but we thought it might be helpful to offer up what has worked for us in our times of remote work and homeschooling while we traveled, which are the same practices we will be putting in to place in the coming weeks.

  • Start with a slow morning. When you have a big empty day ahead of you, regardless of what there is to be done, there is no need to rush in. Set the tone for the day by encouraging calm, thinking activities. We will have our “quiet coffee” meeting after breakfast while the girls play imaginatively in a different room.

    • This is a tricky thing for kids to execute on some days, but it is a boundary that we draw in our family: that adults need to have time to have grown-up conversation and that, even as kids, they can be in charge of their time and imagination. This simple act of independence really sets the standard for other activities throughout the day and encourages them to take ownership in their learning and schedules.

  • Dress and clean-up. Most of our family members find it difficult to work while there are household messes to tend to. Before we sit down to work, we go through a regular routine of making beds, brushing teeth, and dressing (even if it’s just into comfortable loungewear).

  • School and administrative tasks. By mid-morning, our kids are ready to be productive.

    • Our IB school utilizes Google classroom, which makes checking off tasks easy; but when we were homeschooling full-time, we had the rule that each school day had to incorporate reading, writing, and math. Observing these basic study skills keeps kids considerably on track.

    • Keep your work during these first few hours to administrative tasks as much as possible. The kids will require a lot of help and have a lot of questions, which isn’t very conducive to knocking out big tasks. But you can answer emails, organize lists, and check off small projects while also helping with school work.

    • Determine from the start to be patient. There will be interruptions, there will be frustrations, there might even be near meltdowns. You can recover from all of these hiccups and keep going.

  • Prioritize the rest of your work day. Next level work tasks can be completed while the kids play. Send them to a separate space to let their imaginations run, and wait it out for a few minutes. Eventually, those kid instincts take over. It might be noisy, but you’ll be able to work with less interruption.

  • Keep regular meal times. You’re going to need some anchors in your day, and kids don’t cooperate when they’re hungry. Make it a point to stop and create an actual meal experience with a balanced spread.
  • Save screen time for the big things. We aren’t anti-screen in this house, we just use it wisely. The fact is, eventually kids get bored, even with the iPad. Working toward a movie or game time makes it a reward and promises to hold their interest better than if they have it all the time. have a conference call or a proposal that needs your full attention? That’s the time to set up a show and a snack.

  • Don’t worry about deviating from the schedule. If you’re too rigid, it all feels like a chore. These next few days are going to be gorgeous weather, so we’ll for sure be getting outside. That might mean cutting into our work day a bit. Maybe we’ll have to make up some lost time in the evening—that’s okay because we all have all day.

  • Manage realistic expectations. Check-in with yourself and with each other about what actually needs to be accomplished versus what just feels like it’s hanging over your head. It’s helpful to start the day this way (with morning coffee), but it’s a good idea to end here too. It allows you to turn off the work brain, since you’ll be living and working in the same space, and refocus your attention on a restful evening at home.

Our family will be honoring the suggestion to socially distance, both in work and in play. While it is an easy rhythm for us, both because of past experience and because of the nature of our work, we are committed to the herd mentality and want to do our part to stop the spread of this disease. We will not be taking any in-person meetings over the next few weeks, but we are always available digitally, on a multitude of platforms. Please feel free to continue to reach out over those mediums for work projects—or if you just have some more questions about working remotely (with kids)! Happy to chat about it all.

Stay healthy!

Wander Unlimited
Sarah + Trevor (303) 868-8563