Coronavirus: How to balance working from home and parenting

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people around the world to work from home which in turn has created a whole new set of problems - not the least of which is combining work and children.

Papanui-Innes Community Board member Ali Jones is one of them. She had to dial in to the most recent board meeting remotely.

"I had to text questions and things like that as my phone kept dropping off," she told Newshub.

She is in the early days of self-isolation, and like many Kiwis is now having to work from home.

"It's isolating by the sheer nature of it being self-isolation. But my husband's at home, that's gonna drive me nuts. And I'm probably gonna drive him nuts as well," she says.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) says if staff can work from home, employers should start allowing for that before they're forced to.

"Show them how this is going to happen, and let them have confidence that this is just business as normal and they can go on with their daily work as they would if they were in the office," explains the EMA's public affairs and communications manager Melanie McKay.

For people stuck at home, she says it's important to keep routines.

"Ring up and have a coffee with someone when you're at your desk at home, and make sure you actually keep connected like that for your own sanity."

For parents who'll now face an extended period of time in the makeshift home office, there's always the threat of awkward digital situations, such as the infamous 2017 BBC interview with Professor Robert Kelly.

But parenting educator John Cowan says parents can draw up a timetable to let kids know there'll be a work-play rhythm.

"Let them know that it's not going to be forever, that you haven't forgotten about them, you're not choosing to do that, you're just having to do that, and you'll be back with them as soon as you can," he explains.

He also says it's important to just roll with it.

"Don't expect to get it right straight off. It took you a long time to get good at your job working in a work environment, it might take you a little while to get good at working in this new environment."

It's a new environment where everyone can dial in and talk on one page. So if this is your new normal, why not play 'conference call bingo', with squares like 'are you there', 'hi, can you hear me' and 'sorry, I was on mute'.

Phrases you're going to be hearing a lot more in the future.