Welcome to the new norm of balancing work with our needy ‘co-workers’ around.
Welcome to the new (hopefully temporary) norm of balancing work from home with our ever-present kids. With the mid-year holidays starting in May, Home-based learning (HBL) may be ending soon for school aged kids, but with the circuit breaker still on-going, HBL for enrichment classes and childcare centres is set to continue.
According to the experts, during this extended period of staying home, we should encourage our kids to continue learning. However, as working parents juggle with work and HBL, it is hard not to feel completely frazzled by the end of the day.
How then, do we survive another month of juggling work and stay-home kids? Serious About Preschool spoke to some mumtrepreneurs and educational professionals for advice.
Tip 1: Communicate on your daily availabilities and obligations
At the start of each day, set boundaries by communicating to the kids your availability for homework consultations or play. Children love visuals, it will help if you can draw out a simple schedule and remind them repeatedly, they will get it after a while (hopefully) and leave you alone with protected time when you need to attend to work. Likewise, honor the time that you have set aside for the kids so that trust is built up and they will learn from your example how to have mutual respect for each other’s needs and time.
Tip 2: Schedule quality time for recharging
“I love the serenity of daybreak before my kids wake up, and I will start with a prayer, some exercises and then my favorite podcasts before I plunge into my work,”, says mummy Mili Ng, who owns a software company with operations in Singapore and Malaysia. “Do not underestimate these ‘me’ times. They are vital to help me last through the day!”
Tip 3: Rotate childcare shifts with your spouse
“I got my husband to share the childcare slots so that we take turns to dedicate 2 to 3 of uninterrupted hours on work throughout the day that requires more focus”, says mummy Janet Ng who manages 30 staff in her pharmaceutical supplies firm and has 2 young children at home. “If the spouse is unable to help out, schedule playtime during critical work slots which they can enjoy and immerse in without disturbing you. The idea is to keep them occupied.” She explains.
Tip 4: Redesign work schedule
We are living in extraordinary times and the daily routine which we were so accustomed to does not work anymore! Forget about normal office hours. Try redesigning your work shifts around your kids’ schedule. Eg. Pushing back the kids ‘school hours’ to 9am so that you can clock a couple hours work under your belt before preparing them for HBL. Then, ‘eat in’ and try completing more work during noon time while the kids are having a break or doing things that can buy you some time.
Tip 5: Identify your priorities
Consider doing the critical work in the early morning hours before the kids are up or after they have gone to bed and use small pockets of time throughout the day to catch up on emails or other essentials which require less intense efforts. Be prepared to let the less important tasks slip with the kids around. Schedule important calls during pockets of time in the day when you have space from your kids but reply non urgent emails when you are on ‘stand-by’ to help your kids with their work. Do not get distracted when kids are doing something that requires your full attention. Have an open mind and prioritize! However, do not be disheartened if less gets done on a bad day. Even your boss will understand!
My Junior Maths: Kids learn faster when they are having fun! And when they are having fun, they will be less likely to need your attention. Consider letting your child have some fun with interactive online math games or challenge them to see how many questions they got correctly in math worksheets to earn a reward. For the younger children, you can ask them to measure the amount of pasta in a bowl, or print out coloring sheets on digits to keep them busy! Even for our own classes, we invest heavily in making math fun for the child through games and manipulatives so that math instantly become real to the children as they use it by talking, reasoning, playing and doing. They did not even realize that they are actually learning through this fun!
The Plei Academy: STEAM education motivates and inspires children to turn their ideas into reality through their own hands-on play, empowering them to be exploratory, innovative and confident in their own skills. You can create such opportunities at home too! Some examples are subtraction bowling, flour and water dough play (can add colour to your dough), create long bridge with toilet rolls etc…Let their creative juice flow with experimenting new creations! These stimulations not only can buy you some time for work, they can also have positive long term benefits to your kids.
Tip 6: Positive mindset
The benefits of the circuit breaker should outweigh the drawbacks as it can promote stronger parent and children bonding. It can also help busy parents go on board with their child’s education such as having a better understanding of their syllabus and keeping better track of their progress for HBL. This trying time will soon past.
Tip 7: Continual Learning
Even as our normal lifestyles comes to a standstill, learning should not. Stimulate your child’s learning ability to the best of your ability. It may not take as much effort as you think!
Heguru Education: Our formal education focuses mainly on working the left brain's functions such as logic and reasoning abilities. Math equations and science experiments, for example, uses the left brain's systematic and logical thinking. There is little room for right brain development which is also required to fully unleash a child's potential. With well-developed left and right brain, children can excel better in academics, as well as other interests like sports, music or arts. So take this opportunity to exercise your right brain! Do little things like doodling, exercising, colouring or even daydreaming can be baby steps to stimulate your right brain at home!
And when all else fails? Prepare a special box of toys or activities which your kids love and are able to immerse themselves into while playing independently. Take this out when you need urgent time at work! Even a box of special snacks which they love can help keep your little colleagues motivated when the going gets tough at work!
By Charmaine Ng