As the Work Form Home movement gathers pace, so too have the challenges for parents trying to work from home. Many parents are now working remotely while their children are present. As parents, some of you are having to adapt to this new normal. You have not only had the added pressure of adjusting to working from home, but you may be homeschooling kids, maintaining your remote workload and trying to keep your family positive, balanced and optimistic in a negative pandemic environment.
“For most parents, it’s completely resetting their reality. We’re unable to do the same things with work or caring for our children that we’ve been able to do in the past,” says Dave Anderson, a clinical psychologist and the senior director of national programs and outreach at the Child Mind Institute.
While infants and toddlers will require the most hands-on care and attention, older age groups will provide their own set of challenges for working from home parents. At least some parents working from home across the world are showing in mostly humorous ways on their social media channels, how these adjustments are having a bearing on their day to day lives.
So how do you manage it all?
Begin by preparing an adjustable schedule
Having a schedule planned out for work, schooltime, exercise, meals, face timing with friends and family will help create more calm to your week. As there has been huge disruption to routines, kids are looking to their parents now more than ever to provide and maintain this sense of calm.
If you have a work conference call or client video call, then you will want to plan your child’s schedule to have something that they can do without your help at that time. You won’t be able to recreate the structure of the school day in your schedule but for most ages, blocking off 30 -40-minute works best for educational tasks.
RTÉ have launched their RTÉ education homeschool hub which will span across its television and online platforms, providing primary school children with fun and engaging daily lessons from the comfort of their homes. We have also found a list of 110+ excellent free educational resources for kids of all ages to help.
“Parents and children could plan that routine together, and perhaps that will allow everyone to feel a bit of control over a challenging situation,”
Nancy Close, PhD, clinical director of the Child Study Center’s Parent and Family Development Program.
Manage you and your children’s anxiety
It would be completely natural for both you and your family to have anxiety during the current situation. Younger children may demonstrate their anxiety by acting out, being whiny or throwing tantrums, while older kids can be more angry episodes. Taking time to sit and discuss as a family what is happening in the world right now will help ease anxieties.
Check out these 10 Creative Ways to Relieve Anxiety in kids.
Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, parenting coach, and author of The Tantrum Survival Guide recommends as the parent and the grown up, it is up to you to start conversations with your kids regarding coronavirus. Especially for younger kids who may still not completely understand why life as they know it has been cancelled. This will help alleviate their fears and help create a calmer household.
Children notice how you speak as much as what you say. Before having a conversation with them regarding the seriousness of the ongoing situation, ensure you are calm and prepped for the conversation. Children are resilient, so tell them as many facts as are suitable in a non-panicky way.
Parents also need to focus on their wellbeing and anxiety levels. If you feel overwhelmed by everything that is going on right now and the pressures that are coming with it, then schedule some time out of the day for yourself. Some ways that you can practice self-care include:
Enrolling in an online class such as Wukkout, Zumba or Boxing/Kickboxing workouts
Photography Classes Free with Olympus or Nikon (for April 2020)
Reading – work your way through Goodreads Lockdown Recommendations
Writing or keeping a journal – Here are some prompts specific to starting a journal during Covid 19
Meditating, Yoga or practicing Mindfulness – Our list of the best apps for this
If you are overwhelmed and need inspiration on how to navigate the best course for you and your family in these challenging times then check out this interview with Jessica Joelle Alexander, a bestselling author, Danish parenting expert, columnist, speaker, and cultural researcher. Jessica is currently in lockdown with her husband and two kids in Italy.
In this interview with Jessica she discusses:
- The challenges of being in lockdown with her family
- How to set routines for your kids
- Helping teens and young adults understand the gravity of the situation
- How to deal with Anxiety
Even the best planned schedules can encounter an interruption, it is inevitable. You may be on an important call when your younger child chooses that moment to start whining or need your attention or older children decide to have an argument over what movie to watch.
Be upfront with expectations and communicate with your employer that you have children at home so you cannot guarantee that your work or conference calls will be free of interruptions. The safest way to avoid your work team or client from hearing any possible interruptions is ensuring you have the mute button enabled during conference calls.
If you do have a particularly important call that needs to take place and want to limit the chance of interruptions, then arrange a virtual playdate for your children with friends or family. They can set up their playdate with family friendly video calling app Caribu.