Parents are now at home with their children due to the pandemic COVID-19. Anxiety is high and stress levels can be through the roof. How do you manage a household with kids at home and you possibly still working from home. Here are some tips to help keep the house running.
1. Have a schedule. Adjust but do have a time to get up. Have breakfast, school time, breaks snacks. funtime, technology freetime family time,exercise time and a bedtime.
2. Know it is okay to feel anxious. This is new to us all. Even us professionals are struggling to stay positive. You are not alone.
3. Assure yourself and kids that we will get through this. Focus on what you can do. Not what you can’t. Kids need to feel secure, but know we parents don’t always have the answers. Say, “we will get through this together.” Let your kids get their thoughts out. You can ease their fears by letting them know you too have fears, but are working on ways to ease them. Maybe practice a deep breathing exercise with them to decrease everyone’s stress level. Use age appropriate conversations. You don’t want to stress them out discussing finances , bills or lack of resources. DO seek community resources online or within your community.
4. Stay in contact with others. Phone and video does still connect you and eases your anxiety. Pick a time your kids can talk to their friends and family as well. They do need to stay connected to people and activities they value.
Maybe call grandparents to check in on them. They will enjoy the contact.
Many companies have online, (zoom), etc. video sessions for exercising, sports, music, dancing, cooking, gardening. Use these to engage yourself and your children.
5. Have fun building family bonds. You are home together so make the time count and make dying memories. My family was in the backyard cleaning out the pool this week.
6. Plan a fun future event. Maybe a family vacation or restaurant to try out. This gives everyone hope which we all need now.
7. If you work from home have a designated space or room to work. Make a simple sign to hang on the door to let your children know when you are working. Maybe an emoji that smiles meaning they can come in and on the other side am emoji with a straight face meaning I am working. Make sure the kids needs are met before you begin working and have a time block they can check in with you.
8. If possible work when they children are doing their online school work, napping, chore time, watching a movie( 1:45 is average time). See if you can do split shifts or have older siblings help supervise the younger children. If you have to work a set schedule know that it is probably not going to go smoothly without kid interruptions. Inform your employer of your situation and see what options or support they can offer you.
9. Put snacks and food out for the children in an accessible place and label the amounts they can have. For younger kids put items in a basket in and put times they can have them. You can also have the kids set an alarm on their phone or tablet to remind them of snack times.If they eat them all up, (which can and probably will happen) have a conversations with them about self-control and time management as well as responsibility. Don’t make a big deal of it but let them have a consequence of missing the next snack since they already ate it. Prepare all meals in advance. non-cooked options are best to avoid accidents. sandwiches, cereal, yogurt, chips, fruit, cheese sticks, crackers are all good simple foods. Juice boxes or pre- poured drinks or water bottles should also be set out for the children.
10. Talk, Talk. Talk. Effective communication is needed now more than ever. Do listen to your children. Don’t minimize their feelings or concerns. Listen to what they are telling you and answer their questions truthfully. Seek support from a respected authority if you can’t answer them. Counseling and coaching are available online. Check with your insurance provider or do a search online for services and support.
11. Self-care is essential. You must take some time for yourself. If your cup is empty, you can’t support someone else effectively. Read, craft, write, listen to music, dance, exercise, take a nap, Talk to a friend, watch TV or a movie. Whatever you enjoy, now is the time to do it to de-stress and refuel yourself.
You are not alone and you can do it. This too shall pass.