SERIES | REBECCA’S ONLINE TEACHING TIPS
Telecommuting is not easy
Working from home on occasion is a luxury. What a treat it is to get up a little later, put on comfy clothes, grab your favorite coffee mug, and settle in to your couch with the dog nearby resting its head on your lap. In the first few days you will establish a leisure schedule, go for a walk, enjoy the view off your porch.
But eventually, your back will start to hurt. You will smell something and realize it’s you. You will realize you forgot to eat. You’ll see a stain on your shirt and not care. The dog will slobber on your laptop and the leaf blower outside will no longer be charming. It will just be noise.
Welcome to working from home. I was a professional telecommuter for two years. I worked for the University of Idaho as a regional marketing director and web coordinator. My fellow team members were based in Moscow, ID while I was 2.5 hours north in Sandpoint, ID. Every day I was at home working while juggling two small kids and their schedules, a house, 7-foot snow berms in the winter, two ferrets, and an immense yard to mow in the warmer months. I sat in on daily conference calls in between getting kids to school and picking them up. I designed websites and wrote original copy, prepared marketing materials and presentations all while managing grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, and meal preparation.
I am a Type-A social being. I am not built for solitude. I love my kids but they make terrible office mates. I like a quiet workspace but the absence of energy, bustle, and idle chatter was deafening.
But as I was living in a remote place and had exhausted all possible local job opportunities – I had to accept my fate, hunker down, and embrace my new normal. Here are some tips to get you through the #COVID19 social distancing and shelter-in-place mentality…
BONUS Tips for those juggling young kids while working from home
One big difference in a normal work-from-home situation is that kids are typically in school or daycare. In this social distancing #COVID19 version of life, working from home with kids in your workspace is a very altered reality.
As I have not had little ones in my house in a long time, I am going to defer to the experts. Here are a few very recent articles I found:
- Coronavirus Triple Duty: Working, Parenting, And Teaching From Home by Yuki Noguchi, NPR All Things Considered (Mar 17, 2020)
- How to work from home with kids (without losing it) by Anna Bahney, CNN Business (Mar 17, 2020)
- How to Work from Home with Kids by Christine Cyr Clisset, Wirecutter (Mar 17, 2020)
A few highlights from the articles:
- Minimize disruption by keeping a strict schedule to maintain normalcy including time set aside for meals, breaks, and playtime
- Set a tone of patience and empathy. Everyone will have to adjust to this new norm and there will be bumps along the way.
- Create “zones” in the house for work, play, kids, sleeping, and eating.
- Divide and conquer: If you have a partner or babysitting-age teenager at home with you, work out a schedule with them for monitoring the younger children so you can switch on and off with blocks of time to focus on work.
- Help the kids “own” their part in this. They, too, can play a role in helping their community and contributing to the good of the family by allowing the adults to work and continue to provide.
- Set realistic expectations, acknowledge this is a big change, and create a safe space for communication as struggles arise.
- Work together – as you prepare lecture materials, kids can create, read, draw, or have limited screen time with educational programming.
- Get outside if you can for a walk or engage in simple activities or games using chalk or your own sporting equipment (that you can control and sanitize).
- Work when they sleep – an old trick many at-home working parents use effectively. This includes naps and getting the kids to bed by 8p.
This post is part of Rebecca L. Cooney’s Online Teaching Tips series. Check out more tips in the “Online Teaching Tips” category.