It takes three days to fully clean up a dropped jug of lemonade.

April 23, 2020

Janine Allen

It takes three days to fully clean up a dropped jug of lemonade.
Or…Things I’ve learned while working at home with kids

It was two minutes before our Monday all staff call. I had set up my 9-year-old on his Google Classroom and provided colouring options for my 5-year old. I turned to gather my things and as I was walking out of the room, I heard a CRASH and quickly – “Sorry Mom!” I came back in to find an entire jug of lemonade exploded all over my kitchen. And I mean all over – the floor, under the fridge and up the walls. I threw towels at the two kids and yelled for them to clean it up as I sprinted to the office to dial in. At that precise moment, the internet died…and I realized that I’m still learning how to master this particular balancing act.

But I’ve also realized these last few weeks that most parents I know are also struggling. And while there are many other, more qualified experts with advice on how to be productive at home with kids (this one, or this one, for example), we thought we would share our own experiences so far, and our own, KLC brand of “advice”.

On balancing schoolwork with work-work

M is too young for schoolwork, but she is in an important stage where learning and exposing her to as much as possible is a must. I try to find creative ways to teach her things. I have her help me bake cookies and muffins and count all the items/measurements with me. I put out puzzles, toys and books all over the house, so she doesn’t only play/learn in one area. Is my house always a mess? Yes. But at least she keeps busy.


For us, it’s all about planning. My husband and I compare schedules each night to see who has calls or deadlines they need quiet time for. Then we essentially hand the children back and forth like batons in an 8-hour relay. Neither of us work typical 9-5 jobs, so we still get our work accomplished, but over a slightly longer workday right now.


Our biggest challenge is Wi-Fi. In the first couple of days of the lockdown, we were suddenly four people online between the hours of 8:30a.m. and 6p.m. (well at least between when the kids got up at 9:30/10 and 6). Our son was finishing his Master’s program at UofT online and our daughter was yanked from her studies at Queens to also attend online classes, lectures and labs from home. And then came ZOOM meetings, sucking tons of bandwidth at a time when everyone else in the family was also streaming live events. We have since upgraded our Wi-Fi, and actually got a better rate…I will ponder the randomness of Rogers pricing policies another time…and we have gotten so much better at coordinating our schedules and remembering to inform each other of them.


During this time, I have one adult child also working from home.  I am working in the upstairs office, which is also the kitten’s room, while my daughter is spread out at the dining room table.  For the most part this works well, and we humans are quite respectful of work meetings.  However, we have two dogs and one kitten and they can be most disruptive when trying to work productively.  Aside from being incredibly friendly and sociable, the pets are like very small children in many respects and they crave attention – and food – some days more than others!


On kid/work barrier breakdowns

I think our team is pretty used to seeing my kids walk into the video frame by now. I do my best to keep them busy, but kids don’t care much about boundaries. I don’t worry too much about it. Most of the team has met my kids – they’re part of the junior KLC family!


The most embarrassing moment was most likely when she had a messy lunch and my fiancé, very sweetly, was prepping her to go into the bath when she ran out half dressed. Luckily, she didn’t make it on to my Zoom screen, but it was a close call.


And when all else fails…

‘Cosmic Yoga’. It’s an online show where a person tells a story while incorporating yoga. When I do this in the morning with her it usually stimulates her and tires her out a bit, then she’s more likely to sit and play.  


We take the kids on hikes. Not only is it great exercise, but at this time of year we could see all sorts of animals returning to the forest. But when all else fails, the obvious solutions work too: TV and iPads.


Know what the “keep quiet” max is for your kids. And try to keep meetings under that.  My kids have a 20-minute “keep quiet” cap. And when that’s not possible: Netflix and lots of snacks.


We don’t pretend to have all of this figured out, but each day seems to be getting a little more manageable. The key learnings for those of us (with kids or not), have been to practice patience, flexibility and acceptance. Whether it’s kids, pets, partners or parents, this new environment is taking some getting used to. Remember to celebrate the little wins, and don’t cry over spilled… lemonade.

Have a question? Interested in finding out more?