Parents working from home share their best tips for surviving the quarantine with kids

All in the family

Melissa Stephenson, 37, asked a family member for help when she found herself at the breaking point.

Source: Melissa Stephenson

Melissa Stephenson, 37, who runs a flea market blog, says she found herself at the breaking point a few weeks into the quarantine. “The first two weeks, I was so overwhelmed with balancing everything and actually getting anything done on our online business,” said Stephenson, who lives in Orlando, Florida. “I can usually take on a lot but I was at a breaking point last week.”

Her solution: She hired her niece, 20, to handle schoolwork with her kids several times a week for two to three hours. “It has been a lifesaver,” Stephenson said. “They get their school done — and she’s super-creative, so they do fun projects, too — I get some work done and then we can all enjoy our time together even more.” Best of all: no tears from anyone.

Plan everything

Sharita M. Humphrey, 41, says taking time for yourself and lots of planning is critical.

Source: Sharita M. Humphrey

Remember to build time in for yourself, says Sharita M. Humphrey, 41, who lives in Houston and blogs about personal finance. “Self-care, physical and mental wellness are critical, especially at a time when there’s so much uncertainty.”

Plan, plan, plan, Humphrey says. Lay out clothes for you and your kids the night before. “If you can wake up earlier than normal, you’ll have some time for yourself,” she said. “Don’t skip breakfast. This is your power food and will stop you from overeating.”

Plan breaks throughout the day to cut down on screen time.

On schedule

College students need to keep their routine and find ways to be productive, putting this time to best use, says Lawrence Sprung, 45, a certified financial professional in Smithtown, New York.

Same for high school kids: “It is also important to maintain a routine and continue to move forward in their educational goals,” Sprung said. “It is clear that the college process may be changing, and they should be preparing for that.”

Sprung’s firm is holding a webinar next week called “College in the New Normal.”

Nadia Malik, 36, a personal finance blogger in Dallas, has a place on her schedule clearly marked with her own work hours. “After constantly telling them for couple of days, they know when it is my work time, the door is locked and no matter what happens, they have to wait for me,” Malik said. “Moving my work table in a small room far way from the  media room has also helped.”

Tech support

Alice von Simson, 37, says parents need to cut themselves some slack during an extraordinary time.

After her family’s first few days at home together, Alice von Simson, 37, author of “Secrets I Learned by Sleeping with My Financial Advisor,” called homeschooling and working from home a mixed bag.

“We have had some great moments,” she said. “But most of the time because I’m trying to work, they’re high on iPads and sugar.”

One happy surprise, von Simson says, is the extraordinary amount of resources online. She uses Khan AcademyVirtual McArt Studio and Facebook groups, where families on lockdown exchange tips and share their schedules.

There are also tons of free art sites, like Skillshare and art stores with free videos. Free academic content is available at e-learning for kids or Learn at Home from Scholastic Books, which has daily projects and courses at a range of grade levels.

Unsurprisingly, TV is probably going to be called on more often than people might like in ordinary times.

Slow the pace 

Growing up in a pre-iPad age, von Simson says, her generation learned to accept boredom. Kids went out with a ball and tossed it around, she says. Don’t dismiss simple activities, like a bubble bath with toy boats or plastic measuring cups.

A schedule with fresh air

Angie Soliman-Abbassi, 36, keeps her kids to a schedule of activities with plenty of fresh air.

Source: Angie Soliman-Abbassi

Before coronavirus hit, Angie Soliman-Abbassi, 36, had time to hit the gym or grocery shop before picking up her two young girls, 4 and 6, from after-school activities.

Now Soliman-Abbassi, a learning manager for a pharmaceutical company, runs her meetings on Skype with doctors and pharmacists from home in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. ”A lot of time my headset is on, and the kids are running in and out,” she said.

Her advice: A schedule should include as much outside or recess time as possible. “It’s huge for me, tiring them out, getting that sun,” she said. The family’s deck serves as a play area for snacks and coloring. Let kids sleep as long as they want, she says.

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