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  • Writer's picturepamela woodroffe


When life gives you lemons .... make Lemonade -- a newsletter designed to help you cope well with the Corona virus and life in general.


Trying to keep all the balls in the air of teleworking AND homeschooling kids is downright challenging! Plus with elders being at particular risk during this health care concern, grandparents can’t be back-up. Working from home with the kids can be like trying to read a good book while attending a heavy metal concert. Parents asked me to come up with some tips, so I checked around, and here’s what I learned.

Trying to do both ‘jobs’ at once is draining. When parents are working they feel they ‘should’ be tending to the kids. When they are tending to the kids they worry about work. Spread so thin, parents feel ‘unproductive’, like they are only doing half-well on both. It’s OK. Why should we expect ourselves to be just as good when we have double the responsibilities?

Seven strategies that parents are using:

Get dressed for work – I know, it’s tempting to wear PJs for the sheer novelty, but the ritual of getting dressed for the office can sharpen our mind and get us in the groove. Wear a ‘thinking cap’ – like a bright baseball cap – to visually signal kids that you are working.

Fix up a dedicated office space – it’s hard to focus on work from a dining room table piled high with bills, school papers, sewing supplies (for masks), kids’ projects, groceries, and dishes. Time to get creative and design office space that is more practical. If possible, find a real office chair, or at least a good ergonomic arrangement.

Invest in a good set of headphones – the sound quality will be better, and your kids can’t hear your co-workers curse. It also can help drown out background noise for you. If privacy is an issue, install some ‘white noise’ like a fan just outside the room you are working in.

Schedule your day – around required teleconference meetings, a fresh-air break, study times with the kids. Make a visual schedule with specific time blocks to start and end each activity on your phone or computer or desk. You’re more likely to stay on task, get things done on time. Some parents are adjusting some work tasks to times the kids are sleeping, while maintaining dedicated hours to help kids do their homework. If it’s a two-parent household, coordinate time as best you can to alternate kid care. If you can, alternate ‘quiet times’ (for the kids when you are teleconferencing) with snack/exercise kid time. Sample daily schedule form (PDF) (Word doc).

Adapt your teleconferences– If your kids are going to want to cuddle or scream, use the mute button. You can also turn on a fake background, so you don’t have to worry about your coworkers seeing your chaotic house. Having visual meetings with your co-workers can help you stay connected. During high-concentration meetings, give your kids some ‘work’ to do, or quiet projects. If the kids know it’s a finite time block, they are more likely to give you space. It might be ok for the kids to have more ‘screen time’ than you used to allow.

Can you reduce the time for teleconferencing? Talk with your team and supervisor – Maybe trying to fulfill all the projects and goals you had prior to the health crisis plus adding on 30% more work to adapt to it is not sustainable. Do we really need to ask that of ourselves. Maybe you can push some projects off for re-evaluation at a future time. Re-set priorities, have fewer conferences.

Time to get creative and have a bag of tricks for times you need the kids occupied: Here are some Instagram activities for kids:

Online education tools for kids:

Parent Map’s list of best online homeschool resources:


Make it easier on yourself as you clean out your cupboards and make foods from scratch to save money. Here’s a couple ideas:

Sheet pan dinners

Shrubs – as we are clearing our pantries, we might be finding some food that needs to be used up to make room for a change in eating habits. I found three jars of various kinds of vinegar in my pantry. Think about making shrub vinegars – a mix that you can add to sparkling water for a refreshing beverage. Here’s how:

Gather ingredients. Shrubs are a ratio of a 1:1:1 ratio of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. So for a heated process, go for 1 pound fruit, 1 c sugar and 1 c water and 1 c vinegar. This will make 3 c of shrub syrup. I like cider vinegar the best; white cider is often too intense for most recipes.

Some combinations – use your imagination:

Strawberries + white sugar + red wine vinegar

Red plum + cardamom + brown sugar + white wine vinegar

Peach + cardamom pods + honey + cider vinegar

First, make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add sliced fruit and bring the syrup-fruit mixture to a low simmer. Let it bubble away until the color has extracted and the fruit looks ‘tired’. Stir in the vinegar and bring to just a simmer, strain out and discard the fruit (or serve it over vanilla ice cream) and pour the shrub into a jar. Keep in the fridge.

Drink up: Fill a tall glass with ice, pour in a splash of shrub, and top it off with seltzer water, stirring. Or you can use it to make a signature cocktail. Shrubs will keep in the fridge at least a month.

Or maybe you’d like to take an online class to learn how:


When under stress, laughter can sometimes be the best medicine. The single most funny thing I’ve seen on Saturday Night in 10 years is about folks new to teleconferencing: “I ruined the Zoom!”

That sums it all up for now. If there’s something you’d like to see in these newsletters, please shoot me an email. What’s challenging? What’s sweet? What’s making your heart sing?

Need some extra support right now?

I hope you are all staying well and healthy, and that you find this newsletter helpful. If you are currently a client, or have ever been my client, I am offering Telehealth (video and audio) counseling sessions. Please get in touch if you would like some extra support during this time. I’m here for you. Take good care,

~ Pamela Woodroffe, LICSW, CDP, MAC, Seattle Psychotherapist

Email me: Or phone me at 206.399.2622 Website:

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