Striking a balance

Tips for managing work, family and school all under one roof

ShirimacriThe new normal we find ourselves in, balancing family time, homeschooling and working from home, is also a new source of stress from social distancing and isolation caused by COVID-19.

Here are a few tips to help manage everyone’s stress as we get through this:

Perspective

Remember that this is temporary. It’s true that we aren’t sure how long it will last, but we do know it won’t be forever. Many of us are working from home while helping our kids manage remote learning. For many, this is new territory, but there are others who have done it — and done it successfully — so it is possible.

Expectations

You’re probably not a certified teacher, so be gentle with any expectations to teach like one. The point of homeschooling now is to stay safe and healthy while providing an alternative learning experience.

Get creative! Younger kids can learn reading and math while cooking, or writing and physical education with a nature journal. Older kids can practice presentation skills, research and writing by creating PowerPoint presentations on fun subjects such as “TikTok for Parents” or for the sports fan, “Quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.”

Flexibility

Structure is helpful and important, but being too rigid can add stress. Can you be flexible with the hours you work at home? Instead of keeping to a 9-to-5 schedule, start your day at 6 a.m. if you are a morning person, or work a few hours after your children have gone to bed if you work better at night. If someone can help keep children busy during the weekend, take a few hours off during the week and work on the weekend. This flexible schedule can work for students, too. As long as they log their required times they can spread their study time throughout the day.

Incentives

Incentives are often invaluable. After explaining the structure and expectations for the new daily schedule, let your children know you’re willing to be somewhat flexible, then offer incentives for effort and a job well done. These might include:

  • Virtual playdates
  • Having a movie night where they get to choose the movie
  • Skipping a chore for a day
  • Extending their bedtime on the weekend

Our health and well-being are most important right now, which is the reason for the social distancing measures and stay-in-place restrictions. To help get us all through this time remember to be gentle and flexible with your family, and especially with yourself.

Shiri Macri MA, LCMHC, is a Licensed Mental Health Clinician for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Employee Wellness Program.

Categories: House Calls
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