While working from home has been an aspiration for many, these were definitely not the circumstances anyone dreamed about. What started as a new challenge with many pros and cons has evolved into what may be a way of life for us for the foreseeable future. Factor in differences of opinion between key decision makers in various administrations, the mental fatigue of living through a crisis, and the uncertainty of our future health and financial prospects, and you have a recipe for extreme stress and a temptation to completely shut down.
While the working parent can comfort themselves with the fact that they are still able to have a job during the pandemic, this cannot combat all of our negative emotions, alleviate all of our worries, or solve all of our problems. So how do we navigate the realities of the pandemic as working parents? Let's take a look.
Form a Pod
First of all, let's learn from the spring of 2020 - we cannot do it all ourselves. Many working parents reported high stress and anxiety as their children began to come home with their supplies and devices to support remote learning provided by their schools. Juggling transitioning from the regular office to the home office while supervising kids 24/7 proved a tough task. This year, if kids are not returning to school, get out ahead of their back-to-school date with a solid plan. Is it safe for a family member to visit your home, or for them to supervise kids at theirs, even for a few days a week or a few hours each day? Can you partner with neighbors in a similar situation? This kind of group quarantining is known as "pods," and forming one may be an essential component of daily life for a working parent.
Get Serious About Your Boundaries
When things feel uncertain, the comfort of a routine can be extremely important. By now, you have a very good grasp on your own schedule, whether you work from home or go back into an office setting. Build your child's routine around yours. Throwing yourself and your work into turmoil will not help anyone. If you're up at 5 or 6 am, try to keep your kids to the same schedule so they aren't trying to stay up late when you need to sleep and souring the end of each night. If your day starts later, theirs can, too. That way they aren't tip-toeing around the house early in the morning, creating stress to start their day and potentially shortening your sleep.
It's also important to set up dedicated spaces in the house for everyone to do their work. If it's convenient, dedicate part of your home office as a learning space for your child. We've spoken before about how to create the perfect learning space for your child or children. The most important thing is to find a space where all supplies can be gathered in one area, and you don't need to interrupt your work to be fetching supplies. Your children's office set up should be just as detailed and well stocked as yours for maximum efficiency.
Don't Forget About Recess
Just because our kids have to stay-at-home, doesn't mean we are trapped in the house. As a working parent, it may sometimes feel like you're not giving your children enough. But kids have incredible imaginations, energy, and a capacity to be flexible. A great way to keep everyone in the family's morale up is to embrace recess. Now might be the time to invest in some nice bicycles, a sandbox, an inflatable pool, or other outdoor gear. Sitting and staring at screens for hours on end can be very detrimental to our health, so make sure to factor in plenty of fresh air, physical activities, or even 1-minute dance parties!
We hope that with this advice, navigating the pandemic as a working parent will be a little easier. If you want more support at home, considering enrolling in Best Brains. Many centers are offering daytime learning, where your kids can connect face-to-face with real teachers from the US and Canada who lead children through fun activities, homework help, and learning exercises. You can get started here.