We are feeling it. Most of us did not sign up to be a teacher all day while maintaining our jobs as best we can from home. Family time is great, but too much of it — along with the normal stress of raising and supporting a family compounded by the impact of a global pandemic — can cause stress that none of us has felt before. In addition, we are drowning in guilt. Guilt that we aren’t doing enough, doing too much, not doing anything well. We dream of that big yellow bus pulling up in front of our homes to whisk our happy children off to school.
Until the day that bus comes back we are all faced with a new reality. You’ve seen the many tips and tools that have been shared online and elsewhere. Some are great; some not so much. In the interest of saving you time and effort of wading through everything that’s out there, here is some of the better advice along with my personal tips and tricks.
By now your family has created a rhythm to the day. These patterns provide comfort and reduce anxiety. Although consistency is important, allow some flexibility in your daily routine when needed. We are not living in a predictable world so flexibility is key to maintaining balance.
7 best tips and tricks for parents
1. Assign and maintain household chores for kids
- Most children can help out around the house. With everyone being home make sure your children help with family responsibilities such as dishes, cleaning, garbage etc. With a pandemic each family is a team and we need to help one another through this time.
2. Be gentle – aka forgiving – with yourself as a parent
- These are difficult times. Allow yourself time to focus on your needs and recharge your batteries.
3. Allow for flexibility
- Maintaining consistency and routines is important, yet it’s important to remember these are truly extraordinary circumstances
- If you need to allow additional screen time for the kids while you get something done for work or if you let them sleep late while you enjoy some rare quiet time – that’s O.K.
- If you need to bend your own rules or establish new boundaries, allow yourself the ability to adjust as needed. Remind yourself you are parenting in a situation that has not been experienced by our generation
- Adjust your expectations – for yourself and your family. Maintaining normal expectations during these times may only increase stress and anxiety.
4. Choose your battles
- Choose the behaviors that are most important to you and focus on just those. If you don’t you may be spending a lot of your time arguing with your child and no one has the time or energy for that.
5. Accept disappointment & empathize
- Home from college, no prom, sports cancelled, can’t see friends — your kids are disappointed. Most kids are feeling the first real social disappointment they’ve ever experienced outside of the normal ups and downs of friendships and relationships.
- As your child shows disappointment in the way life is right now, recognize their loss as real. Expressing empathy is a great way to open up communication and help your child become more resilient.
6. But don’t let your older kids shirk their responsibilities
- If your children are older, they are fully capable of doing their school work and connecting with teachers. Make sure you are putting this responsibility on your child. That is one burden that you should not have to carry
- If your children have always needed more help, choose one time during the day to check their progress.
- Set expectations and implement natural consequences. An example of this would be: “I am going to check your work at 3 o’clock. If you have everything complete the afternoon is yours. If not, you have to finish your work before screen or play time” This puts the responsibility on the child and the consequence is there if they choose not to accept it.
7. Reach out
- Use online tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom to reach out to friends or family. Download the “House Party” app to have a virtual “Happy Hour.” Call using Facetime instead of just voice for additional interaction. You’ll quickly realize your friends and family are going through the same trials, tribulations and BOREDOM you are experiencing
Empathy, support, encouragement is what everyone needs right now. Please feel free to reach out directly to me with any questions.