So, there’s a new virus going around, have you heard?
It’s become impossible to turn on the television, go to a restaurant, check your retirement portfolio, or enter a store without noticing the effects the Coronavirus are having on our daily lives.
As of yesterday, we are now in a global pandemic.
In my observation, people are generally reacting in one of three ways:
- Completely ignoring it,
- Monitoring the latest news, or
- Panic buying toilet paper and team #CancelEverything.
I was safely in camp two, but now I’m not so sure. I travel a lot as part of my job, so that has me concerned for entirely different reasons.
What Happens Next?
Friends, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before social distancing, the only way to effectively contain a pandemic (see Wuhan, China) is required. Schools, churches, public places… they are going to close. Many have already started.
The impact to local businesses, the economy as a whole, and to individual families… it’s going to be devastating. Businesses will lose planned income, families will lose costs sunken into daycare and schooling, employees will be forced to stay home without pay, and the economy will be in a tailspin. People that planned on retiring this year will have to wait until a time when the market rebounds. Many people will be sick, and hospitals and the healthcare system as a whole will be overwhelmed with limited resources.
I will admit that I have had two primary (selfish) concerns.
I’ve not been very worried about actually getting sick (maybe I should be?), but rather
1) What to do if I am traveling overseas (I’m abroad once a month now with my new role) and a travel ban is put into place or I am quarantined, and
2) What to do if schools close since I have 3 kids of pre-school age that would still need 24/7 care.
The first one has a pretty easy solution – don’t travel overseas. Unfortunately, it’s written in my job description that I’m supposed to be in our French office once a month, but thankfully my company self-instituted a grounding of international travel for the time being. My worst fear came to life last night when the President announced restricted travel to/from Europe, although I wasn’t supposed to be there until next week and I’m quite glad I wasn’t there when the announcement was made and panic traveling back to the United States.
The second one- well, I don’t have a great solution. My kids are young enough that they require 24/7 care – I can’t just let them go on their own while I get work done. Not at 8 months, 2, and 3.5 — Which renders me unable to work if they’re all home. I might be able to get some help here and there, but it wouldn’t be regular, and honestly, I can’t afford any more considering I’m already paying $40K for childcare on an annual basis already. This one is going to be tricky, and I know many of you are thinking of this and other concerns as well.
Working From Home With Young (Pre-School Age) Kids
One thing is for certain: young children require 24/7 attention. So how do you give them that attention when they’re home because school is closed and you have work to do?
Carefully, that’s how. I have a few major suggestions on this front:
Unfortunately, young children have schedules that are more or less rigid. They need to eat and sleep at regularly scheduled times. That interferes with your ability to get much done during those times if you are supposed to be working. That opens up the option to go to off hours working. Maybe you get up an hour or two earlier and get some work done then. Maybe you work for an hour or two after the kids go to bed. That’s not necessarily fun, but it’s part of what is required to be able to work from home when you have little ones who are also stuck at home with you.
I’m a pretty anti-screen time parent. I try to stick to no more than 15-20 minute increments and not every day. I only allow PBS and Disney+ shows, and even those I screen ahead of time. So it’s a big deal for me to say this- relax the screen time policy. You’re going to have to get some stuff done and you’ll probably need to have a TV as a parent for a little more than you’re used to. When things (eventually) return to normal, just go cold turkey on the TV for a few days to detox; it can be done.
You’re going to have to get the kids some things to do. I’ve personally been stocking up on supplies from Amazon- cheap games, coloring books, toys, etc… to help keep the kids busy. I usually do this when we’re approaching winter break or a trip- a bunch of things from the dollar store or target dollar spot or whatever would work too. That will occasionally buy you time to get some things done.
Of course, if you have the ability to have loved ones assist with your kids so you can work full time or part time, then this is the time to take advantage of that help. Lots of people I’ve talked to are discussing child swaps, where one family will watch multiple families kids for a week while the other parents work and then it will switch to another family, but to me- that just is the same thing as going in public places. The point is to not be in contact with other people as much as possible. It’s really hard, but seemingly has to be done.
I would LOVE to hear some of your thoughts on how to effectively manage to work remotely when you have young kids at home.
If nothing else, remember that many other people are in the same boat as you. Everyone is going to be less productive in times like this, so you will not be alone.
Stay safe and stay healthy friends.