A PSA for Newly Working-from-Home Parents

by Allison Handy 

For parents of young children, like me, we find ourselves in an especially challenging position right now. We are juggling the care and concern of our workplace, with the care and concern of our children, who are now home without consistent childcare throughout our workday. Furthermore, we are now also expected to be their teachers, implementing and managing a three-to-six-hour curriculum every day.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my six- and nine-year-olds are simply not capable of completing their own work without constant support throughout the school day. It seems unrealistic, not to mention exhausting, with everything we professionals are trying to juggle each day.

Considering I’ve been about three weeks ahead of many of you in the home school scenario in California, I’ve compiled a few suggestions that may be helpful:

Identify work that can be done after school hours. If you are an early riser or night owl, use that time to get through non-urgent emails. Use your more limited daytime hours for the items that require immediate responses, or that require phone conversations.

If you have a partner, coordinate your schedules to block appointment times with your kids. Just as you would block a dentist or doctor’s appointment and work around it, do the same for their school. Pick a subject or two a day that you think is critical, and make that your school appointment for the day. Treat it the same as a doctor’s appointment and ask your partner to do the same.

Childcare is considered an essential job function and is allowed in most county “shelter in place” ordinances. Remember that college kids are home from school and likely looking for something to do. Can you ask one to come over and teach art or science to your kids twice a week for an hour? I recommend you check your county ordinance and establish boundaries of quarantine, and that you trust they are adhering to those boundaries, to protect your family from COVID-19. But this could really alleviate some pressure. They could even do it outdoors while maintaining a 6-ft. distance. Or could they offer tutoring services via Zoom or another online platform?

Let’s face it—our kids are going to have to sit in front of a screen during the day while we work. It’s reality—don’t fight it. But make the most of the screen-time. Common Sense Media is an amazing source to find age-appropriate movies and TV shows with healthy messages. We’ve done a lot of “watch this movie and write (or tell me) what you learned.” Hey, if I’m the teacher, I get to decide what to teach!

Don’t be afraid of your reality. If a kid screams in the background while you are on a call, it’s OK! If you’re making popcorn for your kid’s movie and the timer dings while you’re on a conference call, don’t sweat it. We’re all in the same boat and your professionalism is not being judged by what we hear or see in the background.

Don’t try to keep up with the school schedules of your non-working friends or social media feeds. This was a big one I had to learn… The Zoom kids yoga classes and zoo feeding live-cams that your friends are recommending that require a specific start time—forget about it! The stress of being available at exactly the right moment isn’t worth seeing the pandas get fed! I promise! Don’t get overwhelmed with the myriad extracurricular options available to kids right now. Focus on survival and then you can add in other things as your schedule allows.

Lastly, and most importantly, trust that you are doing enough! Do the best you can and make it good enough. Whatever that is, it is enough! You are not a teacher and you cannot replicate being a teacher while you are working at the same time. But, you are a great parent. If you get one great lesson plan done a day, you’re killing it as a teacher too—which is an amazing accomplishment under the current challenging circumstances.

Allison Handy is SVP of sales, marketing and revenue optimization for Prism Hotels & Resorts.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.