As developers, we’re more accustomed to talking about computer viruses than the kind that actually affect our health. But as we all know, coronavirus is here and there is no escaping it. No matter who you are, the virus has probably turned your life upside down. No more routine, no more office, and for those of us with kids, no more dropping them off for somewhere else to deal with all day. When all your worlds are colliding into a few rooms of your home, how do you manage to take care of the kids, put food on the table, stay sane and get work done? Here are a few creative solutions we’ve come up with so far, in case they’re helpful to you.
- Create a schedule for the kids.
Okay, let’s be honest here: it’s really hard to have a normal routine amidst all this chaos in the background. But a written schedule for your kids makes it easier for you to stay on track as the days slowly start to mesh into one. Plus, it gives your kids some structure, which they really need right now since they’re not in school. Between all the meals, schedule in some educational activities, some fun time and even some cartoon time. Perhaps most importantly, make time to take the kids outside in a place (like a backyard, a park, or even an empty parking lot) where they can run around and get their screaming out. Who knows, you might even want to join them.
- Get help from family members who don’t live with you.
The other good reason to make a schedule is that it lets you coordinate some virtual babysitting. For instance, if your kids are old enough to do homework or other activities on their own, you can set up a video call with your mom or some other angelic relatives to watch over your kids while they do their work. (Kid-friendly apps like Faceboook Messenger Kids are great for this.) All of this meaning you get an extra one to three hours to do your own work, without having to let anyone into your house. Don’t forget to say thanks to mom.
- Find some activities the kids can do on their own.
Wouldn’t this be a great time to introduce your kids to some video games, if they’re old enough? Not only does it keep them occupied, but it also gives them a head start with computers — skills they will need for the future (because, you know, there is a future and one day we will come out of this, even if it doesn’t feel that way now). There are also educational apps that you can download to help your kids learn to read or do math, like Montessori Preschool. Cartoons are also good for younger kids, even if they’re not so educational. You have to take what you can get, so you can get your time to do what you need to do, right?
- Make use of your extra time.
Even if your workload hasn’t slowed down, you might be seeing a strange benefit of working from home. Essentially, it’s the realization that your 7- to 8-hour work day can be condensed into five hours, because you don’t have all the luxury of taking long breaks and chatting with people in office, etc. So if you’re able to make use of the extra time, or if you’re significantly underemployed right now, why not work on something meaningful? For instance, taking an online course or doing some Raspberry Pi projects with your kids.
- Help make things better.
No matter who you are or what your job is, you probably feel like you want to do something to help get us out of this pandemic. If you’re a developer or a data science person, there are plenty of things you can do with your skills to make a difference, from data mining to gather information, to participating in hackathons for solutions, to creating apps and chat bots that help us avoid overwhelming our healthcare systems while still keeping people safe. Volunteer your time and help save the world. Really.
Life really isn’t anywhere close to perfect right now, and no matter what your situation, things are hard. We’re in this together though — and that includes your kid — so finding ways to deal with the new normal is your best bet. If you have any other tips of your own to share, we’d love to hear about them in the comments. Good luck and good health to all.