Many parents are no doubt familiar with the challenge of working remotely while caring for their kids during the pandemic. Our ability to get it all done and maintain a healthy household family dynamic seems impossible at times. It’s no surprise, then, that both children and parents alike have reported significant upticks in their mental and emotional stress.
With that in mind, here are strategies you can put to work in your house to bring a sense of normalcy to your home during the pandemic.
1. Create time, and space, for your kids to talk about new moods or behavior
As a parent, you’re likely tuned into our kid’s emotions. If you see your child exhibiting a new mood, that could indicate they’re experiencing frustration or unhappiness or maybe anger, or sadness. Kids, let alone parents, aren’t generally equipped to deal with complicated emotions. Novel behavior could indicate you may need to dig deeper with your child to unravel what’s going on.
Longer car rides (e.g. maybe your child’s soccer game across town) provide the time to talk with your kid and deeper into what’s really going on. Or maybe cooking together to get them talking; you can often pull out your child’s feelings when they’re busy doing something else.
2. Have your child rank their feelings
I like to get my students and my own kids to rank how they’re feeling on a scale of 1-to-10: 10 is they’ve never felt so great in their life, while 0 means they’re miserable. Kids are better able to understand a concrete ranking instead of trying to articulate a strong or complicated feeling.
3. Talk about your own feelings
Let them see that you have ups and downs, too. Show them you’re human too and that it’s normal to have feelings. “But what about the kid that doesn’t open up, easily even though you know something’s going with them?” Try to engage them during an activity they like. Art is a good way to get kids to express how they’re feeling; you can see a lot about what’s happening when kids are busy creating art. Other kids will open up through journaling, playing a game, or activities with family pets.
4. Teach your kids to compartmentalize
Of course, it’s not just our kids who find the times we live in challenging, mentally and emotionally— it’s everyone, including you. You may have noticed your kids don’t exactly appreciate that you’re in a meeting with your boss when they holler “what’s for lunch mom!” at the top of their lungs through your office space’s open door.
5. Everyone should have their own space in your home
Put sticky notes on the outside of your office door if need be, letting your kids know that you’re occupied. Get your kids involved in designing or modifying their own rooms so they gain a sense of ownership of their space, too. Make sure their rooms or favorite spaces in your house are stocked with items they need for school, their leisure activities, etc., so they don’t have to come running to you.
6. Create a daily schedule for your kids
Include at-home schooltime, so they know what to expect that day. A lot of kids embrace routine: they want to know what’s next to feel safe and secure, knowing what’s in their schedule and when is key.
That said, take the schedule with a grain of salt when your kids’ emotions go array. If they’ve had it for that day, tell their teachers; many teachers will get it because they’ve been homeschooling as parents for months, too, while teaching full-time. Stay safe, healthy and deal with catching up later.
7. Respect the end of the school day and workday
Make sure that you and your kids establish an end-of-day cutoff time for work and school (or, if need be, catch up on a busy workday after your kids have gone to bed.) Don’t go back to your designated workspace. Invest in connecting with your kids instead — it’ll further your understanding of their well-being during, and after, the pandemic is over.
Have fun and stay healthy!
My tips blend well with many suggestions I share in my first book, Launch Your Kid: How to Promote Your Child’s Academic & Personal Success (without being a helicopter parent), which launched in January 2021.
-buy it today at www.righttrackeducation.ca/shop and use BACKYARDCAMP20 to get 20% off!