As the idea of working from home may become a normal part of routine for you, it can be stressful juggling work responsibilities with caring and homeschooling your children. For the past few weeks, my family and I have been figuring out a way to co-exist and work together. As expected, there have been bumps along the way, and there continues to be some challenges. However, we have developed a routine that have created some normalcy during this period.
Here are some tips could be helpful in helping you navigate your children’s needs so that it helps you to work from home:
1. Work with your children to create a working schedule for the day: Depending on the age of you child, you can work with your child to develop a working schedule for the day. We developed a routine where in the morning, we review activities that they can work on during the day. We also discussed what we, the parents, are working on during the day. When we share our work, this invites the opportunity to talk about what each of our work looks like and what we need from each other.
Since our children are older, we were able to develop a loose schedule that gives them autonomy of what they want to complete. Depending on your child’s age and level of initiative, you can develop a loose schedule with them, or it could also be a timed schedule providing your child a framework of getting their activities done.
2. Create a routine that aligns with a typical school day: Essentially, this means providing space for snack time and “recess” between the school work and activities during the day. This also gives you all an opportunity to check in with each other. This also helps to provide a framework of the routine for the day, and helps your child to know what to expect. Now, our children remind us of what is planned next.
3. Give your children opportunity to use their imagination: One day, we gave our children a box and told them to go wild. They decided to build a time machine, and had many adventures going back in time. Playing outdoors also gives children the opportunity to use their imagination by developing games.
4. Create a start and end time with work (yours and theirs): With commuting being out of the picture, I have heard many people talking about working, or being expected to work, during those times. Ensure that you give yourself work hours. This helps others in your household know when they are able to communicate with you. It also gives you an opportunity to separate yourself from work and focus on self-care.
5. Check in with your partner and children periodically throughout the day: Whether it’s at the beginning, middle or end of the day, take 5 minutes to let everyone check in on how they are doing. As discussed above, this can also happen during snack or recess time.
With younger children, remember that it is quality of check in and not quantity, i.e. frequency of check ins.It is true that it is more frequent check ins than when they were at school and you were working, but a few minutes of providing them undivided attention would pay off with them playing or working on their own for a longer time.
6. Encourage children to connect with their friends: I never thought I would say this but my children are spending more time on the screen than I would have liked in the past. I have even encouraged this increased screen time by helping them set up the chat or video call with their friends. Like adults, children are social creatures, and need social interaction. My children have played chess and Pokémon with their friends online and my one son has been playing Roblox and Fortnite.
7. Let go of parental guilt: The most important tip is to let go of the guilt you may have. We cannot be 100% to everything all the time, and that includes with our children. We are not able to work from home, school our children, and take care of daily needs all the time. However, we can be 100% to each part of our role some of the time. This may also mean shifting our expectations as parents. Our ideas and expectations of providing our children with a healthy environment can still occur, however it will look different than it did before. This would also ease the pressure you may have about trying to make it all work.
We hope you find these tips useful. As always, you can reach out to us for further support in navigating relationships during this unusual time.
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Amreeta is a Registered Social Worker, and a Psychotherapist, who works with adults and teens in working with shame, and building self-confidence.