It’s incredible how much has changed in the past month. I remember just a few short weeks ago I was overwhelmed by juggling my work with my kids’ sports activities, musical theater, and coding classes.
Now, the overwhelm looks a little different.
Like most working parents, my husband and I weren’t expecting to homeschool our kids – now or ever. Yet here we are, both of us working full-time, three kids under the age of 10, and attempting to teach my 5th grade son Common Core math. We’re in the thick of it.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent who quickly realized they’re not a school teacher, and that comes with a lot of pressure. Additionally, kids often act better for their teachers than they do for their parents, which is frustrating when you’re trying to make the best of a difficult situation.
I’m learning more and every day that just because our kids may be harder on us, there’s no reason we have to be hard on ourselves. We don’t know how long the current situation will last, but here are some ways to give your kids—and yourself—a break in the meantime.
Schedule Working Blocks with Your Partner
If your partner or spouse is working from home too, it’ll be helpful to know who is working when. Create a schedule, so you both know when each of you can focus on work. That way, you can communicate to coworkers when you’re available.
It could be rotating shifts throughout the day, for example: 10-12pm you’re working and then from 1-3pm, you take the homeschooling shift. This will naturally evolve over time, so experiment with time blocks or different days of the week until you find a schedule that works best for you.
Carve Out Fun Time with Each Child
As we’re all trying to find our new normal, I’ve found that one of the most important additions has been daily one-on-one time with my kids. The stress of running back and forth between work and home responsibilities can make it easy to forget to build in time to enjoy each other.
“I’m learning more and every day that just because our kids may be harder on us, there’s no reason we have to be hard on ourselves.”
So even if it’s 15 minutes of practicing jumps on the trampoline with my daughter or playing a game with my son in his room, this time gives my kids focused attention and creates more positivity between the two of us.
Break Out of the Routine
There’s comfort in routine, especially when you have kids. While we used to send our kids off to school with an already structured day, we’re now left on our own to figure out what this new schedule looks like.
The goods news: You can make it whatever you need it to be.
One morning recently, nobody was really getting along, and even though it was time to start school work, the kids definitely weren’t in the right mind space for learning. So, I made the executive decision that we would go outside and clear our heads. That way, when the kids came back in, they’d be more ready to learn, which is exactly what happened.
Create a Rewards System
As adults, we still find ways to communicate with our friends and coworkers regularly, even in this unusual time. But I realized recently that our children were missing their friends and needed some time to just be kids.
I normally don’t reward my kids for completing their schoolwork every day. But I’ve found that creating little incentives, like letting my son play Xbox or allowing my daughter to have Facetime dates with friends, makes the days a little easier on all of us.
Give Yourself a Break
In addition to what seems like a large school work load, most kids are also being given extra assignments in subjects like art and music. And if I’m being honest, there’s no way we could get all of that done in a day. Plus, my kids work at different paces, which can be a strain to come up with activities for the ones who finish quickly.
“I believe that how we react is a good indicator of how our children will react, and our kids just want to know that everything will be okay.”
I could stress myself out by trying to complete every single extra assignment. But I’m finding it easier to say: We got through as much as possible today, and that’s okay.
We’re also using this time to work on life skills like doing laundry and cooking together. As important as school is, there’s also value in teaching our kids how to be responsible humans.
Finding the Silver Lining
No one knows when all of this will end, and while I don’t want to scare my kids, I’m honest with them about it. We watch some of the news together every morning, so they’re aware of what’s happening. But I believe that how we react is a good indicator of how our children will react, and our kids just want to know that everything will be okay.
So, I’m using this time as an opportunity to teach my kids how to look outside of themselves and how we can help people who may be suffering.
I’m finding that in its smallest moments, this crisis has created an unexpected gift (Common Core math and all!) This time is a pause in our busy lives, which we will most likely return to at some point. So for now, I’m trying to find the silver linings wherever I can.