Tips on how to work from home and shelter-in-place with kids

photo by Clara Applegarth

photo by Clara Applegarth

Clara Applegarth

While cities across the globe continue to shelter in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and childcare workers are essentially working overtime and, if attending school or working from home, their duties have doubled (Life During Quarantine podcast).

For over a year, I have been working as a childcare professional for a single mother. She owns a manufacturing business that produces crowns and dental supplies, which means she is an essential worker. My focus on the final semester of my undergrad has been off-kilter as a result of working at least 20 more hours per week. 

While being in this pandemic is daunting enough, having to care for children during school or work can seem impossible. Here is some advice

Charlotte Jackman has worked as a professional childcare worker for seven years while attending school at Academy of Art School in San Francisco. Five of those have been spent with individual families.

The mother she is working for now is currently attending online esthetician school, and is sheltering in place with her children while Jackman works.

“The mother is home because she’s doing school online while I’m working, which is very distracting to the children,” Jackman said. “They’re confused why mommy is right there, but I can’t play with her.”

Charlotte works with two children, Loki, who is three-years-old, and Clementine who is two-years-old.

While many parents or childcare workers rely on the kid’s online school to keep busy while they get work done, working with children under the kindergarten age requires constant attention.

“Because they’re too young, I have to focus all my attention on the kids keeping them out of the mom’s hair, and then in the evening I have to work on all of my school,” Jackman said.

Jackman makes sure their schedule consists of times set aside for snacks and meals, outside play time, and if the weather doesn’t permit, she allows them to pick out a movie.

“This pandemic is exhausting enough, but having to snap out of it, and be a super fun nanny now is pretty tiring, and they’re very energetic kids,” Jackman said.


Here are some tips on how to find some relief in this situation:

Schedules structure the day while also making it go by faster, and gives you an idea of when you can put in work or set aside time for yourself or house maintenance. You can also incorporate cleaning surfaces in the child’s schedule. 

I work with a girl named Leani who is seven-years-old in online school and another named Kaili who is in pre-k, thus, has no real schoolwork to do. The schedules for the girls I watch depends entirely on Leani’s school day. I try to make breaks for Kaili while Leani has breaks in her schedule. Kaili’s schedule usually goes as follows:


8:00-8:30: Eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, go potty, brush hair

8:30-9:30: Khan Academy or ABC Mouse app on iPad 

**Educational apps are your best friend, because it can be considered as screen time and are usually fun for children.

9:30-10:00: Pick up toys

10:00-10:30: Break with Leani

10:30-11:30: Arts and Crafts

11:30-12:30: Lunch and playtime

12:30-1:30: Naptime 

***If the child is still young enough to nap, naptime will be your saving grace if you have work to do or need a break.

1:30-2:00: Simple Word Puzzles 

***You can buy these on Amazon and will teach the child how to spell and sound out words.

2:00-2:30: Break with Leani outside

***Fresh air and sun is important. It will wear them out and they will be more able to focus once they’re done.

2:30-3:00: Reading and Writing practice

***This will require supervision and help. 

3:00-3:30: Board Game, YouTube kids exercise, dress-up or have them get creative and perform their favorite Disney song.

“It’s really about separation.You have to have some sort of separation between work and family time or else it is going to be really hard to get anything done,” Jackman said. “Make sure you’re taking care of yourself first, try to plan your work around your family’s schedule, naps, when they go to bed or if there is another parent or family member in the household while you do your work and then you can switch.”


Here are some more resources and ideas of how to entertain a child during the shelter-in-place: