Population Health Insights

Best practices in telecommuting and raising a family at the same time

by Katherine and Sonny Ramsay

With the country in a state of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic people are finding themselves involuntarily working from home and families homeschooling for an undetermined amount of time.  My best advice to you is to slow down!  There are not many times you will be given the opportunity like this.  Use this opportunity to reconnect and build special memories with your closest loved ones, or take the time to learn something new.

Working from home

If you find yourself working from home for the first time, establishing a routine is very important.  Working in your pajamas sounds cool but you may find yourself feeling a bit too relaxed.  So getting dressed will help establish your mindset.  If you don't already have a dedicated workspace set aside, carve one out.  Always start your day on time, prioritize your most important tasks, while also looking at your upcoming schedule.  Keep your normal coffee breaks and lunch time.  

Take time to communicate with your "new coworkers" about boundaries of your workspace.  Remember, you are sharing an office now with new teammates who are working on other projects, so don't forget to enjoy and socialize with them.  You may not realize it but you are setting the tone for the house.  If you are stressed, they will be stressed.

For those with school aged kids

Don't let the word "homeschooling" scare you.  You have already been homeschooling your children you just didn't know it.  You have taught them many life skills… tying shoelaces, riding a bike, taking care of pets, practicing good habits, time management, communication, etc.  You have taught them your personal beliefs about life, religion, politics...how to be successful, how to learn, and how to love. 

So all you need to do is set a little vision for your kids over these next few weeks, or months.  Routines and flexibility are key to your survival.

Routine

This helps them structure their day and sets expectations.  Talking about the schedule allows them to visualize what's ahead of them. Use the schedule as a guideline but be flexible. As an example, if you find that your kids are "in the flow" then you may want to give them a little more time in that area.  Here's an example schedule:

Before 9 am wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed
9-10:00 am academic/learning time
10-11:00 am morning walk/exercise/break outdoors
11-12:00 pm creative time (crafting, drawing, instruments, legos, etc...)
12:00-12:30 pm lunch
12:30-1:00 pm chores
1-2:30 pm quiet time (reading, puzzles...nap)
2:30-4:00 pm academic/learning time
4-5:00 pm afternoon fresh air
5-6:00 pm dinner
After 6:00 pm family time/free time

Academics / Learning Time

Doesn't have to look like public school.  Life skills, audio books, documentaries... is there something your kids have been wanting to learn about?  Enable them.  Give them opportunities to put it into practice.  Ask them for verbal feedback on what they are learning.  They can even teach each other and also listen and learn from one another in a respectful way.

Family Time

With no extracurricular activities right now, plan some fun evenings with your family.  Game night, talent show, cooking challenge competition... spending quality time together.  Laughter is good medicine.

Communication

Lastly, communicate.  You may have to remind your kids that you are also working from home, that you will need to focus away from them at times, and remind them why what you are doing is important and why what they are doing is important too.  Everyone will need to be patient with one another.  At the end of the day, ask them how their day went, and listen.  You may want to make some adjustments for tomorrow.  Take this one day at a time and make the best of this opportunity.

About Sonny and Katherine Ramsay

bottom sonny fam 2020-04-03 at 10.01.39 AM

 Sonny is the Technology Manager at Care Innovations and is responsible for managing the company’s cloud infrastructure operations.  In this role he works with multiple teams, supporting product development, delivery, and customer service operations.  His wife Katherine has a background in Child Development and Education.  Sonny and his wife moved to North Carolina several years ago with their four children where they homeschool and work from home.