While there is fear and uncertainty in the world around us, we are all doing our best to keep our homes and families safe and healthy - physically and emotionally. As we learn how to parent and school while working from home, tensions are often high and simple tasks can seem overwhelming. Below are some tips to help you navigate the new normal:
- Create a New Normal through Consistent Routines
Children thrive on consistency. They will be more cooperative if they know what to expect and when to expect it each day. While we’re uncertain of how long we’ll be living in isolation, it’s a good idea to create a new schedule for your family and stick to it as best you can. Get up at the same time each day. Set a time for schoolwork, play, meals and exercise. And be sure to schedule in family time.
- Promote Independence
It’s tough to get work done with kids demanding your attention. Consider giving them tasks to do independently – like a scavenger hunt, art project, or even folding laundry – so they have something to focus on while you are working. Remember to praise your children for their efforts. You will get more of whatever behavior you pay attention to. Try to notice and praise positive behavior as often as you can!
- Work Together with Your Partner & Other Loved Ones
If you have a co-parent or someone to help take care of the children, you are probably already taking shifts of caring for kids while the other works. Be sure to agree together on the length of the kid-care shifts. Some parents are good with a long stretch with their child, but other parents will do better with two shorter shifts at different times of day. Be respectful of one another’s needs.
- Be Honest with Your Children
Your children may ask questions about COVID-19, social isolation, and what is going to happen in the coming weeks and months. We encourage you to be honest with your children, while sharing age-appropriate information with them. For more support in this area, visit our Facebook Group or attend our online class, Help Your Child Feel Safe in a Complicated World.
Try to set aside time each day to play. Go for a walk, toss a ball around, have a dance party, or play a boardgame. The benefits of play are manifold. First, if you spend time giving the kids your full attention, they will be less likely to demand attention from you later (when you are trying to get some work done). Fill their “attention banks” early and you will hopefully see a rise in your productivity throughout the day. Second, people of all ages need play! Play decreases stress, boosts creativity, and improves brain function. Especially during this time of uncertainty, your kids AND YOU will benefit from laughter and silliness. Lastly, and most importantly, play builds connection. We have a unique opportunity right now to connect with our kids and have fun as a family - something that sometimes gets pushed aside in the midst of our regular busy lives. Do something your kids enjoy doing, listen to them, learn about them and from them, and delight in them.
In the coming days and weeks, we’ll dive deeper into each of these tips. For now, be patient with yourself and your children. Stressful moments will occur. Anticipate them by defusing known hot spots (e.g., getting going in the morning and transitioning into school time). Create routines that balance your self-care, work time, and activities for connection.
Lastly, remember that you are not alone. Millions of other parents are in the same boatl and we believe we can help one another navigate these uncertain times. That’s why we’re opening our private Facebook Group to all parents. Join today to gain support from our parenting experts and other parents like you. For a limited time, we are also offering online parenting classes for free and reduced rates.