Working from Home with Kids: Communicating Expectations

By UBC Camps

Make a plan, stick to a routine, and don’t sweat the small stuff! Time management and communication are key.

Children thrive with structure! Creating a weekly and/or daily routine can help create a sense of normalcy. How much structure and guidance your children need on a daily basis will depend on their unique needs, personalities and age; no one understands this better than you. 

Regardless of how detailed a routine you develop, it is vital you communicate the family plan to your children. Sit down and walk children through what they can expect both weekdays and weekends to look like. Younger children may need you to break down what working from home actually means (ex. you won’t be available after breakfast, and they will need to knock on the door and wait to speak with you until it’s a good time). We recommend you consider:

Snack Breaks
    • Set a time and do your best to stick with it! Take the opportunity to eat, socialize and break with your children.
    • Use egg timers, sand timers, or draw on a clock face with a whiteboard marker to help children understand the rhythm of the day.
    • Reassure children that while there are times you cannot have long conversations or play, you look forward to time together later.
Spatial Boundaries
    • Set-up a designated workspace away from as many distractions as possible; ensure children know to keep their activities separate. 
School Work
    • Most children will need dedicated help with online or take-away academic material; it may be too much to multitask and complete your own work simultaneously, so plan ahead. 
    • Brainstorm boredom busters with your children, and for older children, create an activity idea list, jar or activity spinner to encourage independent decision making.  
    • Have a winning ‘plan b’ to implement on difficult days (ex. afternoon matinee with popcorn, a full-apartment blanket fort, etc.).
    • Use a combination of words and symbols to write out and display the family routine in a visible place.
    • Homemade workplace signage is also a great ‘make busy’ project for kids!
    • Some children might thrive with a customized ‘either/or’ schedule to ease the anxiety of an overwhelming amount of time at home.


Don’t forget to take a moment to acknowledge your children for following your family’s new routine. Use verbal affirmations, token rewards such as stickers, or special activities to reinforce positive behaviors. Remain flexible and adapt each day as needed.


Don’t strive for perfection, and most of all, be patient and kind with yourself and your children!