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Miracle Under Quarantine: Juggling WFH and Kids-At-Home

Miracle Under Quarantine: Juggling WFH and Kids-At-Home

Preeti Viswanathan Ladderworks Spiffy Blog WFH and Kids at Home

Hi again, everyone! Spiffy here, I traveled back to Earth to talk to all your coolest change-makers I can find. But with everyone social distancing, I haven’t been able to ask for directions! 

Today I’m looking for Preeti Viswanathan, to talk about her tips for balancing work and parenting under quarantine in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a new entrepreneur and a mom of two based in Seattle. After 12 years leading finance teams for large brands like Echo, Fire TV, Crest, and Olay, Preeti has taken a side-step into entrepreneurship to reinvent her personal life and her work. Her first venture Kulie Bags is a new line of designer bicycle bags launching Spring 2020.

Hey, there she is!

Preeti: Hi Spiffy! What are you doing outside? Haven’t you heard what’s happening?

Spiffy: Oh yes! I came as soon as I heard the news. I’ve been sure to wash my hands as much as possible and stay away at least 6 feet from everyone. How are you and your planet doing?

Preeti: I’m doing OK. This week, our world begins a new social experiment. Are we capable of infinitely loving our kids when we are quarantined at home with them and we still have to work?

With this level of quarantine, the kids don't go to playdates or activities, food has to be prepared at home, and childcare isn't easily available. This will stop the virus but it requires a lot of energy with no end in sight. Is such love possible?! 

Spiffy: Well? Do YOU think it’s possible? And how exactly is your life different now?

Preeti: Of course it's possible through creativity and patience, but it's gonna be tough! For now, I’ve resigned to these 5 tenets:

  1. Screen time is OK. It’s actually pretty good mid-March – April. Excess is also fine. 
  2. Daily pasta meals are OK. If you change the shape every day, it’s a brand new meal. 
  3. Bathing daily is overrated especially when you are quarantined. 
  4. Tidying up the house and the kids' spaces is overrated when you can’t have visitors. 
  5. To survive is greater than to thrive.

Spiffy: Awww! Is there anything you do to make sure your kids stays on track?

Preeti: Yes, it can’t be all fun and games. They need routines that mirror regular life ones. We still need to get up at school time, have them do their real schoolwork if possible, get them to play outdoors, and go to sleep at a normal time. 

Spiffy: ... and how are you planning to juggle WFH and Kids-At-Home at the same time? 

Preeti: I was terrified at first so I put together a list of activities for my 8-year-old to do for the next 6 weeks. It's hard because she only has a 20-minute attention span. but I didn’t see how I’d fill up 7 solid hours of awake time without NUMEROUS options for an eternally distracted mind. This is my first attempt. Also! Every extra hour they sleep each day, you are winning.  

Spiffy: That’s so thoughtful of you to put together a list of activities that can keep kids engaged and learning in a creative way. Do you mind sharing it so that I can spread the word far and wide?

Preeti: With pleasure! Hey! Maybe you’d enjoy some of these yourself?!

Spiffy: Thank you! 😊 I’m always looking for new podcasts on long spaceflights.

Preeti: Here you go... 

Preeti’s List of Home Activities (with a little help from some friends):

1. Art:
  1. Acrylic art on canvas: (Find several of these on YouTube)
    1. Small
    2. Medium
    3. Art with household things
    4. Learning to easily draw simple things
    5. Finger knitting projects 
    6. Upcycle crayons (an example)
    7. Art for your room 

      2. Chess

      3. Mandatory reading: Read Brightly for the best level-wise reading list I have found after several years of surprising difficulty finding the right books for my kid to read. Accelerated Reader Book Finder is reverse-indexed and Library websites don’t seem to curate as well. 

      4. TV shows: This list is to be used in addition to/after the popular liked ones have been running for hours/days already and even the kid can’t stand it anymore. 

        1. Bill Nye the science guy (Netflix)
        2. Explained (Check before you watch! Some of them are a bit raunchy) (Netflix)
        3. Exploration earth 2050 (Netflix)
        4. Brainchild (Netflix, Sahana Srinivasan)
        5. Beakman’s world
        6. Food shows:
          1. Fed Up: documentary available on Netflix narrated by Katie Couric that uses statistics, research, and interviews about the effects of sugar on our bodies.
          2. The Kids Menu: documentary available on Netflix about how healthy eating, especially in childhood, is very important.
          3. A Plate at the Table
          4. Chopped Junior
          5. Good Eats (sadly not on Netflix anymore)

      5. Sudoku: Play online or print

      6. Try learning to solve a Rubik's Cube with (beginner) YouTube tutorial

      7. Start kids on chores: Unloading dishwasher, vacuum, help make dinner/breakfast, make your own and siblings snacks, put away laundry, vacuuming, chop vegetables/fruit, make a salad. 

      8. Gratitude journal: 3 things that made them happy and proud each day. 1 new thing they’d like to try while on break.

      9. Facetime with family: Find a cousin/aunt/grandparent you don’t talk to as much and make a 10-minute conversation with them. Encourage them to talk about how this quarantine is impacting them, and encourage them to ask the other about the coronavirus and its impact on their lives. 

      10. Foreign-word challenge: Let your kid pick a language they are interested in and challenge them to learn 50 new words in 6 weeks. Babble for a month is $13. For 3 months <$9/mo. Or get free flashcard downloads. Encourage them to make a chart with the progress that goes on their wall or on their desk. Iboux is another platform you can use for French or Spanish. 

      11. Kids Audiobooks & Podcasts:

      1. Podcasts for all ages:
      Wow in the World - Engaging characters that explore different scientific subjects. 
      Story Pirates - Children's stories retold by fantastic comedians with a fun cohesive plot
      Circle Round - Folk tales that our kids can't get enough of
      The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian - An adventure story about a young boy who lives in space
      Young Ben Franklin - Super engaging childhood adventures of Ben Franklin,
      Eleanor Amplified - An adventure story of a world-famous reporter.
      Pants On Fire - Quiz show for children to guess who is the expert and who is the liar
      Brain's On - Covers scientific topics including the Coronavirus (3/10/20 Episode) 
      2. Podcasts for older kids: Six Minutes, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel, Becoming Mother Nature, and The Mayan Crystal
      3. Audible has a great collection of kid’s books. If not a member, try e-audiobooks from your library, they are free!

      12. Home Gardening: I do NOT have a green thumb. Most things I try to grow really perish in days, but these are super simple and hardy plants that can grow indoors with very little support: onion, green onion, potatoes, and cilantro. The planting usually only takes a very short time, so be sure to engage the kid in name tag creation which can take a whole life of its own. 😊

      Spiffy: Wow it looks like you and your kids will be making some great memories! Speaking of which, what’s your best memory from childhood?

      Preeti: My happiest memories from childhood are full family gatherings at our home-town in South India where we spent our days cycling through villages, bathing in the river, growing spinach and potatoes in the backyard, and sleeping ridiculous hours in the afternoon. I hope some day my kids can see these places and experience simple joys of rural Indian life.

      Preeti Viswanathan Childhood Picture for Spiffy's Blog at Ladderworks

      (Photo Courtesy: Preeti V.)

      Spiffy: I'm sure they will! Well, thank you so much for talking with me, I think everyone on Planet Earth will benefit from your tips. 

      Preeti: Thanks Spiffy, I hope they do! The most successful technique I’ve found is to keep sharing ideas for fun activities. If you meet anyone who has an idea that has kept their child entertained, please ask them to send it in here so that we can keep this list updated! 

      Spiffy: You bet I will! 😊

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