Got Kids? Advice to the Working-from-Home Parent.

How do you explain social distancing and quarantine to a two-year-old? That’s the current challenge of Jeanine Miller, full-time staff and art director for Salt Lake magazine who even without the COVID-19 restrictions is constantly juggling the demands as a parent and employee. She explains, “It’s been especially hard with Lauren because being two, she doesn’t understand. She continually asks about friends and daycare and doesn’t get it.”

“It’s been comforting to be home through all this with them. As long as this is going on, it makes me feel good that I can be there for them.”—Jeanine Miller, Mom and Art Director SLmag

Her son Ethan, who is 7, seems to be able to better understand the situation. She shares that he continues to be active, as they schedule regular outdoor time and he loves to ride his bike in the driveway. “Ethan is saving up his money for a real basketball hoop,” and for now, he pretends and shoots baskets into their recycling bin. “He loves school and misses his teacher a lot,” Jeanine shares, “After being told it could be another month out, Ethan just cried.” 

To keep on task with her work assignments and kiddos, Jeanine borrowed and created her own stay-at-home scheduling idea off of Facebook. Even awake at 6 a.m. the scheduled official “day” starts at 9 a.m.

It goes something like this:

  • 9 a.m. Teeth, clothes, hair, breakfast.
  • 9-10 a.m. Outside time, or if that’s hard, allowing them to play inside.
  • 10-11 a.m. Academic time with no screens (academic time with screens is allowed at 3 p.m.) Reading, practicing handwriting. 
  • Noon-12:30 Lunch While Lauren goes down for a nap, Ethan cleans up, including his plates. 
  • 1-2 p.m. Nap for Lauren/Ethan reads. His current favorites include the “I Survived” series, Dogman, and anything about the Titanic.
  • 3 p.m. Academic time with screens and various school assignments which Ethan is familiar with and likes to do. Sometimes they have log-in issues, with multiple steps they can be confusing and can take a while to figure out. 

Jeanine also gets creative with teaching, such as demonstrating math and fractions while measuring in the kitchen, counting a jar of coins, practicing multiplication with play-doh balls, she’s continually coming up with “everyday life” ways to trick them into learning something.

Who keeps track of time? Ethan does, Jeanine shares, “He likes the responsibility of keeping us on the schedule and does it well.”

Do you ever break “the schedule”?

Screen-Time Zombie?

Many parents deal with the issues and guilt associated with our kids and screen-watching during this time home.

“I notice that if he’s on too long, he becomes weird personality-wise, like a zombie and doesn’t respond, which leads to me raising my voice and getting more annoyed.”

“Last Friday, I let them watch a movie for a little fun. Usually, our free time is only in the evening. Or I’ll allow a little extra screen time.” One problem Jeanine shares that if she’d allow it, Ethan would be on a video screen all day.

Even with a weekday at-home schedule in place, I asked Jeanine what she found most challenging, personally. She explained that time-efficiency is about the most difficult aspect for her, working strange hours and piecing them in as they are available. With Jeanine’s partner at his work most of the week, on weekends she’s still taking time to catch up, “Boundaries feel blurry because every day is starting to feel the same, I’m starting to realize you have to step back and take time off for yourself.”

And along with that, when does Jeanine take time for herself? “Finding time for yourself is hard, being a non-stop mom, teacher and working. I’ve been working out more, and we’ve started running together, after this I might be in the best shape of my life.” She is staying connected through virtual Bible study classes and checking in with other moms who give each other reassurance that you’re not alone. “It’s been hard, but after all this, I hope we look back with more gratitude and remember how we got through this together.”

Be well SLC, and be well Miller family, thanks for sharing with us.

And please remember, Salt Lake magazine is a small local business too. We’re doing everything we can to keep you up-to-date on the local businesses you love and how they’re faring in these difficult times. We’re also doing everything we can to add some fun and color into your quarantine. To subscribe to SLmag, go here.

Jen Hill
Jen Hill
Former Salt Lake Magazine Associate Editor Jen Hill is a SLC transplant from Bloomington, Ind. As a blogger and feature writer, Jen follows the pulse of the community with interests in urban agriculture, business, fitness & beauty and anything that allows her to get out of the office and into the mountains.

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