Because it is not business as usual and emotions are running high
Here some ideas to improve the professional juggling act of working, parenting, taking care of the house and taking care of each other.
1. Model proper behaviour: Children benefit from the stability, reassurance and guidance you can provide. By talking openly, taking care of yourself and remaining optimistic you can create a big difference in their lives.
2. Manage the time assigned to COVID-19: encourage all the family to limit the online access to news reports or social media. The more time you spend talking, thinking or reading about the coronavirus, the more it negatively impacts your mental health.
3. Make structure essential every day: to accomplish your daily goals – and especially for working parents with kids at home – you need to be intentional about structuring your time. Discuss with your partner taking turns to attend children’s needs, prioritizing certain chores, and scheduling solo home office time. For school-aged kids, create a routine that replicates school schedules with time for learning, playing, being active and resting. For teenagers, treat them as problem-solving partners and include their needs in the daily schedule.
4. Manage expectations: clearly communicate the need to accomplish work and school work, spend time playing, exercising and taking part of house chores and family activities.
5. Encourage arts and literacy: encourage time spent learning, reading, and writing as much as you encourage listening to music, playing board games, baking or cooking, etc.
6. Stay active and purposely calm: get yourself and your kids involved in work outs, exercise routines, walks, yoga, relaxation activities, mindfulness and techniques to calm the mind.
7. Promote connectedness: spending quality time is important. After the work day is over cuddle together, cook together, help kids with their homework, play without structure or watch a movie. Be present and intentional.
8. Ask for help: either to your partner, your kids, your co-workers, your boss, the kids’ teacher, your friends, your family. Reach out to mental health professionals if you notice your positive mood decreasing and stress increasing.
9. Balance time together vs. time alone: as much as we need social and emotional support to cope with what is going on, don’t forget that we all need quiet/alone time as well as privacy. This is particularly important for parents having teenagers at home.
10. Set clear boundaries: as much as you manage time for work, it is important to protect family time. The same applies to time assigned for chores and time spent relaxing.
11. Accept that stress might make you behave differently: in these unprecedented times we have fewer emotional resources to cope with frustration and loss. It is normal to feel more sensitive and therefore react as short-tempered. Recognizing this is happening might encourage you to take breaks, talk openly, and find ways to cope with your own stress.
12. Practice self-care: by looking after yourself you are also looking after others. Maintaining a healthy diet, practicing sleep hygiene, and doing regular exercise helps to maintain your optimism, energy and patience.
13. Make room for feelings: ALL of them. People are experiencing stunning losses. Adults might have lost their jobs, teens lost important rites of passage (graduation, prom) and children even lost playgrounds. We all lost face-to-face contact with friends and loved ones. Disappointment, sadness, grief, anxiety, and anger call for a good ear and lots of compassion.
14. Be kind with yourself: juggling parenting, work and household chores is very hard. Here we do not aim for perfection, we just aim for resilience. Cut yourself some slack if you can’t be as productive and as patient and emotionally available as before…after all, these are unprecedented times.
Stay safe and healthy!