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Fall 2020: Prepare Your Home

This is part of the Intrepid Eagle Finance Guide to Fall 2020. Click here for more on how to get your family ready.

Prepare Your Home for Fall 2020

Home is many things to many people. It’s your castle. It’s the first place you brought your children after they were born. It’s a place of celebration for birthdays, holidays, and triumphs. Your home will always be those things and more. To get prepared for the possibility of what might lie ahead, it’s time to think about your home a bit differently.

What can you do in your home to prepare for the possibility that children might be schooling at home and Mom or Dad might be working from home? Keep reading for how to get ready for that possibility.

“There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
― Homer, The Odyssey

Why your home?

Fall for your family has the potential to be a time when many activities are home-centered. It doesn't mean you're turning into shut ins, but with more activities than ever taking place at home, take some steps to plan and think about how to set every family member up for success. 

Prepare Your Home 🏠

  1. Workspaces 🔨

  2. Internet 🌐

  3. Equipment and Devices 💻

  4. Step up your Video Conference Game 📹

  5. Make a Schedule 📅

"My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." Isaiah 32:18 ESV

Home is many things to many people. It’s your castle. It’s the first place you brought your children after they were born. It’s a place of celebration for birthdays, holidays, and triumphs. Your home will always be those things and more. To get prepared for the possibility of what might lie ahead, it’s time to think about your home a bit differently.

What can you do in your home to prepare for the possibility that children might be schooling at home and Mom or Dad might be working from home? Keep reading for how to get ready for that possibility.

1. Workspaces

Dedicated Spaces

A dedicated workspace for each family member is important. Why? No matter the size of your home, when you spend lots of time together it can feel tight. Talk with your spouse and designate specific spaces in your home for each family member to do work, school, etc. This doesn’t need to be a home office. Your strategy could be to give the kitchen table to one kid and a fold out table to another child in another room. It can be that simple.

Don't do a renovation

There is a wealth of temptation on the internet about upgrading your home for more home-centric work. Pinterest is like a black hole where you can spend hours on the perfect home office of school room. If you want that kind of upgrade and it fits in your budget, go for it. You probably don’t need it though. Instead, think about some easy and low-cost changes you can make to your space to better accommodate work.

A desk-like option

A desk is great, but desk like is great as well. Why do I say it like that? It’s tempting to work on the couch or a bed, but I don’t recommend it. For kids and adults alike, you just won’t have your best focus leaning back on the bed. A table you already have like a kitchen or dining room table can be fine. If you have more family members than flat surfaces, alternate steps may be required.

A card table or used desk from a thrift store can be great options.


When your son or daughter is "at school", they're probably expected to keep a tidy desk and clean up. Set the same expectation at home. Model it as parents and set a good example. 

Home Office?

You might decide it's time for a home office. If you do decide to carve out a more permanent work space, think about what you really need vs. what looked good on pinterest. You might have also heard about the home office tax deduction. Learn more about that tax provision works

Remote Work and the Home Office Deduction

2. Internet

Let’s be honest, if work and school happen at home internet connectivity is absolutely critical. A video conference that’s inconsistent simply won’t cut it. It can be even more frustrating multiple devices using the internet during the day. Here’s a few tips to make life better for everyone:

Ask for more bandwidth at the same price

Call your internet service provider (ISP) and ask for more bandwidth without a price increase. Let them know you have a school age child at home. You might get a counteroffer of a discounted price which could be worth it but ask for free first and see what happens. Some ISPs are making an effort to help student households.

Wired over wireless

Wherever possible, use a wired connection instead of wireless. Wi-fi is convenient, but an ethernet connect is much more reliable. This is especially true for video conferencing. If you use a wired connection for a video call, your experience will be much more reliable. Not all devices have the option, but where possible, plug it in. This also gives an added bonus of reducing the number of devices on wi-fi and improving the effectiveness of wi-fi only technology. Ethernet cables, even long ones, are cheap and a good investment.

Consider a new Wi-Fi router

There’s two parts of your internet experience: your house’s connection to the internet and a devices connection. You can have a fast connection to the internet and still have a bad experience due to your wireless router. For heavy use, this might mean an upgrade beyond the system that came as part of your internet package. For a reasonable price, you can get a wireless router that is faster, more reliable, and will handle multiple devices better.

Check your settings

Modern devices have settings to help you manage bandwidth. It may be worth it to turn on what some device makers call “low data mode.”

No Noon Netflix

Video is one of the most data intensive activities you can do on your home network. YouTube, Netflix and more can leave you with little bandwidth remaining for that important videoconference with your boss. Think about rules for the household about when watching video is ok. You can take it even further with parental controls that enforce time of day limits.


The more time your family spends online, the more important it is to make sure everyone is safe. Most workplaces use a Virtual Private Network or VPN to secure your connection. Still, it’s important to take steps on your own to keep everyone safe. Teach your kids about safe online behavior like avoiding unknown websites, apps, or responding to messages from strangers. Also watch out for scams that specifically target those doing school or work from home. That email from the “IT Department” could ruin your day with nefarious activity. Be safe online just like in the real world with good habits for your whole family.

3. Equipment and Devices

Work Devices for Adults

For most workplaces that are offering or mandating a remote work arrangement, you should be provided with the equipment to do your work. Laptops are the go to option here, but tablets have become more common. A smaller number of companies out there will instruct you to buy your own equipment and reimburse you. The key here is to keep good records including receipts for any items you procure on your own and request reimbursement.

School Devices

The school device decision strategy is more fluid. Some school districts have taken the stance to issue tablets or laptops (Chromebooks in some cases). If this is the case, then your decision is easy. If the school is not providing a device, inquire what your student will be doing. Check the school’s website for suggestions or guidelines on what is required. Don’t discount a good old desktop computer either. The classic option might be best for your student’s use case. If you plan to buy tech for your student, look for discounts. Almost all the major manufacturers are offering discounts for student related technology purchases.

Modest Upgrades

You might also choose to do some upgrades around your home to improve your new school/work environment. Resist the urge to knock down a wall and emulate one of the home improvement shows on TV. Here’s a few inexpensive upgrades that can enhance your day.

Better headphones

The free earbuds that came with your phone are fine if you’re listening to music or a podcast on a walk. An entire day or wear, however, can be less comfortable. Look for a pair that gets good reviews for long periods of wear. For kids, keep in mind what fits an adult head is different for a child. Some children’s headphones have decibel limiting built in as a feature to guard against hearing damage. For kids that might be wearing headphones for hours during the day, this feature could be valuable.

Back Pillow

A simple pillow for when you have a long stretch in a chair can help prevent a sore back.

Elevated Monitor or Laptop

Putting your monitor or laptop at the right height can make your day much more pleasant. There are ready made solutions for most screen and laptops that will let you raise or manipulate the position very easily. A couple of boxes can be an easy way to test a new orientation out before investing in a more permanent solution.

Cable Management

On a normal day, cables of all kind are probably littered throughout your house. Work and school at home can exacerbate this problem. Some simple zip ties or cable sleeves can help alleviate the clutter.

4. Step up your video conference game

When your son or daughter goes to school, church, or anywhere else, you have an expectation of how they look and present themself. The same goes for yourself. Extend this same expectation to how your family comes across to others via video conference.


Whatever expectation you have a family member regarding clothing should be the exact same for an interaction via video. If a shirt is not OK for in person, then it’s not OK for virtual. To go a step further, solid color clothing comes across better on video. The camera must work harder to capture complex patterns, so when possible look for solid colors.


Go with wired over wireless whenever possible. See above for more on how to improve your internet situation.

Be aware of sound

Most video apps are designed to amplify sound. This is not always helpful. What sounds to you like a light tapping of your fingernails on a table can come across like thunder for the person the other side. BE conscious for distractions like this and make strategic use of the mute button.

Look behind you

It’s not necessary to renovate your house but do think about what is behind you in the picture. You can move a few things around to project a more professional image very easily.


A small change in lighting can dramatically improve how you come across. You want light, whenever possible, to shine on your face. One way to do this is by facing a window during the day. Another way is by putting a lamp on your desk. Avoid light behind you if you can. That will just make your face look dark.


Make time to test each family member’s setup by calling a willing friend or grandma. Use that time to get feedback on visuals and sound while adjusting the device settings to get the best product.

5. Make a schedule

Your work or school arrangement may require a schedule, but even if it’s not required by external forces you should keep a schedule anyway. Remote work can lend itself to freedom, but children need structure and you probably do too. Make a schedule for kids and adults alike. Also schedule in times when it’s “ok” to be taken away from your work. The signal at our house is a closed door. If I’m at my desk, I am working and can be approached by a kid. If the door is closed, that means no interruptions.

Meal Times

As much as possible, enjoy meals together. This is a major benefit of everyone being at home. How often does your family get to enjoy lunch together on a weekday? Savor that time together and embrace the fellowship.

Is Mom/Dad available?

When you work at home, you need to let children know when it is or is not ok to interrupt. It’s can’t be from 9-5. There needs to be time throughout the day or an easy way to let your son or daughter know what is or is not all right. This will take work, but will get easier over time.

Still schedule screen time

After a long day of screen time, how will you relax? More screen time, right? Make it a point to balance screen time especially when the daily activities of work/school are screen centered. Your children won’t police themselves, so you have to.

Plan time outside

Make it a point to go outside. Schedule it if you need to. Even a few minutes here and there will do everyone good.

Have a “test” day

Find a day, maybe a Saturday and try some of this out. Make it a game and give everyone a chance to try some of this out. If for some reason current events or external forces make a decision that affects home or school, you will be better prepared.

Have some Grace for Each Other

Something may go wrong. You might get on each other’s nerves. That’s normal. Have some grace for each other and move forward. Make improvements where necessary. This has the potential to be some of the best family time you could ever have. Make it great.

Go to Part Two: Prepare Your Work

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