By CRU/SMU Staffer Jill Waldman
It’s true what they say—your kids will be grown in a blink of an eye. That’s why I am not totally unraveled by having my two teenagers at home full time while schools are closed for a global pandemic. I realize it’s just more time I get to spend with them, knowing they’ll be off to college in a just a few years.
Both my husband and I work from home, and with dedicated home office space for each of us, it works well. Double the number of people in the house all day, every day, and things can get, well, a bit distracting. Here are some tips for working from home with your teenagers around.
First, the good news. Teens, at least mine, are pretty much self-sufficient. They can make their own meals, help around the house (when forced) and are pretty self-directed with their schoolwork. What I think is true for most kids is that they need structure, so during the week I make sure they are up at a reasonable time (on weekends, my teens sometimes sleep until noon).
To keep them organized, we had them set up a special school workspace in the basement with a large table, chairs, computer and accoutrements to help them contain their work and be able to function efficiently. This way they can step away from this space and feel like they are done, and schoolwork is not following them all around the house. (I suggest this concept for adults if you are newly working from home as well.)
We all sat down as a family and had our teens agree on a daily schedule: a morning block to work on the core subjects (math, science, language and history) and after lunch a block to work on other subjects, like foreign language, art and music. That leaves time in the afternoon to get some exercise and do other things they enjoy. I am blessed with a daughter who composes music on the piano, so it’s a treat to hear her playing and practicing even more.
In our school district the teachers have been fabulous and are using Google Classroom and Google Meet to list assignments as well as have live virtual classroom sessions online. If your district is not providing direction yet, Khan Academy is a great resource to keep your kids learning during the transition.
One thing to think about with your teens is that their lives have been disrupted and that can be really stressful, especially if they are juniors or seniors in high school. They have a lot riding on their grades and prom, SAT tests and their graduation, which may be postponed or cancelled. Reassuring them that these things will happen, but maybe in a new way, gives them some solace.
The main complaint I hear from my teens is that they are bored and they want to see their friends (not allowed with social distancing.) I think it’s important to make sure your teens are not staring at their phones all day. So, instead of taking their phones away, which would result in a coup, I try to create other things for them to do at home. A great activity is cooking or baking. Many teens seem to like this, especially if it results in chocolate chip cookies, which we were treated to last night by my 16-year-old.
I’ve started a puzzle on the coffee table in the living room, that I have caught them adding to, and am keeping the Scrabble set in the kitchen for after-dinner games. My older daughter keeps asking me to make a TikTok with her, and I am sure I will sometime this week. I just hope it doesn’t go viral.
I am also trying to get them some daily fresh air and exercise. Today one of my teens walked the dog with me. Towards the end of the walk she asked me what I thought happens to you after you die and if your soul lives on. I don’t know if the soul lives on, but as long as I am here, I will cherish the time I get to spend with my kids, and those memories will linger, at least for my lifetime.
Jill WaldmanRead more from Jill Waldman
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