How to Work From Home With Kids At Home

Lifestyle, Organization, Productivity

Since Monday 3/16/2020 I’m managing three jobs while home during the COVID-19 outbreak: my salaried day job, single parenting from 7ish-6ish, and teacher aide.

A bit of background, I work full time in finance, Dave’s in construction, and we have two kids, a kindergartener and a preschooler. My job instituted work from home and my children’s school is dismissed through the end of the month. Daycare is still open as of this writing. I decided my kids shouldn’t be around groups if one of us could be home. Dave’s work hasn’t instituted work-from-home yet.

Those who know me professionally and personally know that I’m very into planning, I keep a paper planner and obsess about to do lists, scheduling, and routines.

I’ve noticed a lot of working parents struggled this week and starting to search online for routines on the down-low during their workday. How are other working parents doing it? We all still need to work & kids need to be schooled, cuz if we don’t, we gonna have families outta jobs and kids as flunkies once this coronavirus outbreak is over.

ADVICE FOR WORKING (FROM HOME) PARENTS

First: Don’t sleep in unless it’s an actual PTO day, sick day, or the weekend. Wake up like you would when you would be commuting to the office.

Second: The heart of planning is anticipating interruptions. You will get them once kids are awake and when the rest of your team logins online. Since you’re not commuting for 30-120 minutes one way to the office, maximize that time by starting your workday much earlier. I highly recommend starting your workday 60-120 minutes before the kids wake up. This will be likely be before the rest of your colleagues login online too.

Third: Kids need to be fed adequately spaced meals during the day. I cannot emphasize this enough! When kids are not fed well, or way too late during the day, or a combo of both, they do not stay in good moods and can and will interrupt what you need to get done with work, let alone do their schoolwork/activities. Make scheduling their mealtimes #1 priority during this outbreak, like you would with meetings. Decide on times and stick to them.

Fourth: Go to bed on time. Get adequate sleep. Waking up early will not be effective if you don’t get enough sleep.

Last but not least: if you had PTO for Spring Break but DisneyWorld got closed or don’t want to risk grandparents getting sick, take the scheduled PTO anyway and rest at home. You will not regret this.

Here’s what I’ve been doing since Monday March 16, 2020

WEEKDAY SCHEDULE: WORK FROM HOME + KIDS AT HOME (3/16/2020-3/27/2020; M-F)

6:00: Wake up at the normal time I’d get up for work. 6am for me. Since I don’t have a need to dress up, I shower, brush teeth, wear something comfortable, walk over to the living room to login.

6:30: Begin the workday. I focus on my tasks and goals first. Emails are not the first thing I check.

7:30-7:45: Dave leaves for work. Girls wake up, potty, brush teeth & wash hands. May ask the girls to put on jacket, shoes, & socks if we are picking up breakfast. If staying home, they watch cartoons while I’m preparing breakfast.

8:00-8:30: I make their breakfast or head to their school to pick up a breakfast and take back home.

The Emergency Food Program is a nutrition program providing free meals to ALL children during a national emergency. I highly recommend all parents to find out more about this from their school district with locations and times. Cooking can be a huge challenge when you are profusely busy with work deliverables, and grocery shopping getting more difficult. It also forces you to be on a schedule with not forgetting to feed your kids. (8-9am breakfast, 11-1pm lunch). Look into this program when school is closed.

9:00-11:00: My oldest has two hours of assignments a day, not including homework. I work during this time. Youngest doesn’t have assignments like my oldest so I go to Twisty Noodle and print out activity sheets. She loves running from the kitchen to the office to grab the activity sheet from the printer.

11:00-11:30: Girls generally are hungrier at this time so we head to the school at 11am, and they begin eating around 11:30. Or I prep their lunch at home.

12:00-1:00: I send the girls outside in the back to play for at least 60 minutes. Still working.

1:30-3:00: Here I would get my oldest to complete school assignments if she didn’t complete in the morning, do homework, play downstairs or quiet time. Working and finishing up any other work requests.

3:30-4:00: Girls take shower, eat a snack. I wrap up the workday unless there’s a meeting at 4pm.

4:00-5:00: Let them watch cartoons, and begin preparing dinner.

6:00: Dinner, Dave arrives home. Relax, clean up a bit, blog, watch TV etc.

8:00: Girls in bed

10:00: Me in bed.

What do you think about this schedule? Each family is different so their needs and schedule will be different. Have an idea or schedule that’s working well for you and your family? I’d love to hear it in the comments! 

Planning Your Life During a Pandemic

Career, Family, Organization, Productivity

Pandemic or not, many interruptions and demands will arise and you have to be able to reset priorities when change happens.

Plans are still good to have because it allows you to remain focused on the most important things and know where to reset a few things around. If you’re not able to revise as interruptions come about then your planning will not be effective. Planning allows you to prevent things from slipping even when big changes happen.

Many interruptions will arise anyway, you have to review and reset plans as changes occur.

The biggest change in my plans as well as for everyone else affected by COVID-19 is staying home during times I did not anticipate to be home. My weekend is starting to look different because ballet is cancelled as well as church meetings. Starting next Monday, my schedule and routine will be different too.

My Pandemic Planning

(1) Daycare. Daycare will remain open. My kids do not have a set routine at home between 8-6pm M-F so my plan is to bring them to daycare where they do have a routine. I won’t bring kids to daycare if they’re sick though.

(2) Kids’ school. So much conflicting information on the news about school closures. I went and reviewed school district website about their plan. Preschool is cancelled but kindergarten and above is not closed, only dismissed. School will move to online distance learning format. I will find out next week about checking out a Chromebook from the school and then decide whether my oldest should be in daycare during the school hour. My main priority is ensuring my kindergartener can get her schoolwork done with minimal interruption.

(3) Work. After figuring the plans with school and daycare, I was able to relax about work. Work updates related to COVID-19 changed by the hour this week. By end of day Thursday, they asked us to work from home at least through end of March. I was really glad I tackled some big items before switching to work from home (thanks to planning ahead!!!). Sometimes it is quicker to have two monitors at the office instead of one little laptop at home to work on spreadsheets. Remember to get the big rocks outta the way first whether the routine is eventful or not.

Most important area of focus is morning routine* during weekdays. I am planning to get up at the normal time and get girls to daycare like I would pre-pandemic. There will be discretionary time because the commute will be much shorter and not need to dress as if I’m going to the office.

Looking forward to temporary evening routine*. I should be able to get the kids earlier back home than I would normally, between 4:30-5pm instead of 5:30-6pm. Hoping I can get them to bed early! Also want to plan at least one weeknight meal early next week.

That’s what I have so far! What plans you got now with everything closing and cancelling?

*Note on morning & evening routines: they are 2 hour crucial time blocks between the hours of 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm Mondays through Fridays. More on that in another post.

Here’s Why It’s to Your (Financial) Benefit to Disclose Your Salary to A Recruiter

Career, Money

During a phone screen with a recruiter, you’ll often get asked this question or similar:

“Do you know what you would be targeting from a compensation standpoint?”

What would be the best response to that question?

Avosb / Getty Images/iStockphoto

OPTION #1: “What is the range for your position?” or,

OPTION #2: “I am making X. Money’s not the most important thing to me; what’s most important is finding a good fit. I’m negotiable”

Most people suggest to go with #1. Based on my experience, this is one of the worst and riskiest responses. There’s some theories as to why you shouldn’t disclose but the truth is doing that creates more scenarios that is a waste of time for you and the employer.

Here’s what often happens next from phone screen after asking that.

Recruiter: “….Why won’t you give me a number?”

You end up in an awkward position trying to come up with another answer. Some recruiters get really weird on the phone after that response. If your recruiter does give a range, there is a chance that the range can be lower than the true midpoint for the role.

Your main priority should be to find out more about the job, not how much it pays.

You have very little knowledge about the job during a phone screen. By going with #2, not only you screen out employers whose ranges are out of reach with what you are currently earning, you have now prevented yourself getting offers below or near your current pay. You also are likely to move to the next stage of the hiring process.

I really like #2 and have used it myself. I either state total comp if I think the range is higher or state my base if I think the range is lower. Here’s a response I’ve gotten from recruiter:

“Great. I want to assure you that our company when they find the right candidate they will come back with a package that the candidate will be happy with”

I have never gotten an offer I was not happy with, always gotten at least 30% to previous base each switch. #2 works very well & encourage everyone to do that, especially if #1 hasn’t gotten you anywhere.

Welcome to My Blog-I’m Alina Smith

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Currently live in Salt Lake City, Utah and love it.

Born in the United States. Daughter of Argentine immigrants. I’m a triplet. Happily married to my Asian sensation, mother of two lovely children—they do have amazing hair. The prettiest and sweetest little girls.

As a child, I lived in Culver City, California and lived in Austin, Texas as a teenager. I lived in Brazil for 18 months as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I speak English (native), Spanish and Portuguese.

I originally wrote about weddings, pregnancy, and babies because it was what happened. Then it evolved. I was on Quora for quite a long time discussing about nannies, career as mom, Airbnb hosting, and that there are Latinas who date & marry Asian guys and create cute babies together. It’s still evolving.

I also like to write reviews on Yelp on restaurants and services I use. Huge Yelp fan, everyone should know what to expect in service before paying for it.


This is my personal blog. All commentary are my own and not of the companies I work at past, present, and future.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. I do accept free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations.