Coronavirus (COVID-19) and parents working from home

Tips and advice to help you find balance and create structure if you're new to working from home with your family.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed a lot for families with children in the past few weeks. And we know parents and carers might be worried about balancing working from home with family life, from creating structure to coping with difficult feelings. We've got tips and advice to support you and your family – whether you want to try something new today or just start thinking about changes to make over the coming weeks.

Working from home with a family

If you're working from home with children, it can be difficult to find balance and feel productive. Speak to your employer about flexibility and if it's possible to work different hours. But remember, it's important for you to not overstretch yourself and take care of your own mental wellbeing. Make sure you know about family friendly policies that can help spread the load.

Find a suitable place to work while being close to your children to supervise them. Having a set work space helps all the family to know you're working. Take regular breaks to rest and relax. Whilst it's important to have routine and structure, be prepared to adapt and be flexible to suit your family needs.

One of the biggest challenges can be supervising children appropriately. Some older children can be left on their own but younger children and babies cannot. When your children need you, take time off and return to your tasks later. Give yourself permission to take care of your family and don't feel guilty for doing so.

We're working hard to make sure we're still here for children. Will you be there too?

Planning your family's day

Home is very important right now for working, learning and spending time together. But you don't have to turn it into a school. Don't put pressure on yourself to create the perfect curriculum or fill every hour with schooling. Be mindful of what you see on social media and remember that every family is different. If you're struggling or finding things challenging for any reason, reach out for support and help.

Talk to your children about how they'd like their day to be structured and how that might work with your own responsibilities. Encourage your children to talk about their interests and passions and think of ways to incorporate these with learning. Reassure your child their school and teachers are there for them. And that they'll carry on teaching them - but just not from school. For teachers, we have advice on undertaking remote working safely.

  • Be playful and creative through play, art, music, dancing and singing. You could have a look at some of the fun ideas and activities on Twinkl. As well as KS1-4, they have early years, English as an additional language (EAL) and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) resources.
  • Encourage your child to practice their handwriting, spelling and grammar by writing a letter to friends or family members.
  • Read new books or try some of the fun crafts for sale in our online shop. All profits help us protect children.
  • Exercising together is a great way to expend energy and stay fit, healthy and reduce stress.
  • Cooking can be a great way to use practical maths skills like fractions, ratios and time.
  • Keeping a diary can be good for practicing writing skills and mental wellbeing. The Unworry book from our shop is an activity book to help calm your mind.
  • To help children look forward to the end of social distancing, keep a bucket list of all the people, places and activities your children are missing and look forward to having fun ticking them off when the restrictions are lifted.

Keep in touch with friends and family

Technology can be a great way for children to keep in touch with friends and family and can help with feelings of isolation and anxiety. It can also help take pressure off you as the main carer when you're trying to work. You could:

  • set aside regular time for video calling to create a virtual classroom or playground
  • schedule a reading hour where a family member or friend listens to or reads with your children
  • have younger children draw what they've done each day and share their weekly diary on a video call.

It's important to talk to your children about keeping safe online and set up parental controls. You can find suitable social networks, apps and games for your children on Net Aware.

Supporting your child at home

If your child wants to talk about coronavirus, encourage them to. Try to keep information simple, factual and communicate in a way that your child will understand. It's also important that all the adults in the child's life use the same message - it'll help build their confidence and reduce anxiety. Focus attention on positive stories about people working to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Actively listen to your child about what they're feeling or thinking about coronavirus. Using phrases like "I can hear you sound a bit anxious about that" helps them know you're listening and taking them seriously. Listening and praising them for sharing their worries can also help reduce anxiety.

Read more tips on talking to a child worried about coronavirus

Get support

Sharing your worries will help you feel less anxious or stressed. It's important to look after and be kind to yourself and know you're trying your best in an extremely challenging situation. Tell yourself that you're doing a good job. And seek support from your friends, family or colleagues when you need it.

Use online resources to help plan your child's day and take some of the pressure off yourself. Read advice from organisations who are there to support you and your family:

Mindfulness guide for families

Balancing your home and work life can be difficult when you're working from home. Taking care of your own and your family's well-being is so important.  Our best-selling mindfulness guide is here to help with exercises and activities to give your family the space to understand and manage how you're feeling.  

Get your mindfulness guide