The government is advising people to stay put in an attempt to flatten the curve of coronavirus spread. To that end, many parents are finding themselves working from home while their children are also home from school.
Parents are now being faced with extra pressure of having to care for and entertain their children, while also putting in a productive day of work. So how can you work from home while also being present for your kids during this stressful time?
Dr. Jennifer Dragonette, PsyD, Executive Direction, Northern California at Newport Academy, shared with Fox News some tips and tricks to balance work and family life amid COVID-19.
“Balancing work and family will take more planning,” she said to Fox News.
“No matter your child’s age, they will likely get bored and restless, especially without organized sports or activities,” she added, noting that children are not able to hang out with friends or participate in other group experiences.
To ensure kids stay active – and safe – Dr. Dragonette suggests alternating childcare and work throughout the day with a spouse or partner, if they are also working from home. In addition to having your children keep up with schoolwork as it is sent home, she suggests stocking up on crafts, board games and other entertainment alternatives to TV or video games to help stave off restlessness.
“Ensure that your child is doing their schoolwork if it was assigned, and encourage them to practice an instrument, read a book, or explore a hobby that interests them. Encourage continued learning rather than plugging them into digital devices as much as possible,” Dr. Dragonette said. “Imaginative play is often overlooked as something outdated or old-fashioned, but kids have plenty of imagination to keep them busy. Whereas teens might be able to work on extra credit for school or practice a sport or hobby in the backyard.”
Children – and adults – thrive on routine, so setting up a schedule including periods of school work, play time and focusing on learning a new skill or hobby. Group exercise, such as going on a midday bike ride, if possible, or a walk outside, is also a nice way to break up the day and keep your children active.
“Post this schedule in a prominent place in your home and do your best to abide by it. Children might balk at a schedule initially because it is a new element at home, however as they see you sticking to the schedule, they will become more used to it and this will allow them to feel comforted by having a routine again,” she said.
But most important, Dr. Dragonette says is to “communicate honestly and openly” with your children about your work demands, and keep the news to a minimum as “rumors and speculations only add to your stress.”
“Remember that your kids take their cues from you. If you are obsessively worried about what is going on right now, your kids will likely have anxiety about it too. Managing your own fears and concerns apart from them is important as security is a primary need for children. Take breaks and allow yourself to feel, but then come back to your children prepared to reassure them,” she said, noting that children may be frightened by how quickly information is coming in and guidelines are changing.
“It is OK to talk with them about what you know, just try to keep your language appropriate for your children’s age group. Very young children do not need to know all the details of this pandemic, but can understand that we are all trying as a community to keep others from getting sick, and the best way to do that right now is to stay home and limit contact with others outside of the family,” Dr. Dragonette advises.
Once you’re off the clock, make an extra effort to unplug and have a phone-free evening to fully focus on family time and decompress.
“Please practice being gentle with yourself and your partner, as well. Know that everyone’s nerves are fried, and we are all doing our best,” she added.