Due to COVID-19, many parents have been scrambling to fill the role of teacher and create curriculum on the fly while balancing new work from home duties. But it is in these times that there’s a unique opportunity to step more fully into an approach that works for everyone: that of communicating, collaborating, coordinating and cherishing. And it is through this approach that everyone benefits.
While each family is presented with unique challenges and circumstances right now, these general guidelines are intended to be helpful in any way you see fit.
As a family unit, it’s crucial as parents to address children’s fears and offer them support and love often. Talk openly and honestly about the virus and educate them on proper handwashing techniques and how staying at home keeps everyone healthy. Model positive behavior and how to manage emotions for your children. For members of your family who aren’t under your roof, be sure to keep in touch virtually by scheduling in some time to talk each week. Offer guidance and hope by explaining to your children that scientists and doctors are working very hard to ensure things will get better.
Including everyone in your household during this time, especially your kids, is crucial. By implementing age-appropriate activities for your children, they will feel empowered to continue their contributions and will learn the power of teamwork and active participation. You can do this by inviting them to create artwork for your home office or creating signs and/or letters thanking doctors and nurses, grocery store clerks and other essential workers. Kids are more likely to respect boundaries between work time and family time if they are involved in the process and given clear communication about it.
It’s more important than ever to achieve a balance between work life and personal life, and it’s helpful for spouses to remember they’re on the same team. Structure and planning are good, but they’re made even better with flexibility. In other words, plan for the plan to not go accordingly. You can still accomplish things as a family even when this happens. It’s been proven that taking “shifts” i.e. one parent cares for the kids from 8:00am-12:00pm while the other works, then switches from 12:00-5:00pm is a useful approach for managing work and childcare. Whatever system works best for you and your family, try your best to follow it everyday.
Most of all, relish this time. Many people have had a chance to spend more time with their family in ways they maybe didn’t have a chance to prior to the pandemic, which can be a huge blessing. Give grace to yourself, your family, and your coworkers. It matters most to create an environment for children where they feel safe, can keep healthy routines, manage their behavior, and build resilience. Although things look uncertain and there are real challenges with the present times, we have a tangible opportunity to step up for our children, our families, and our communities.