With schools closed and most businesses operating from a solely remote basis, normal daily routines have gone completely out the window. Everyone is adjusting to a new normal and trying to overcome the challenges that each day brings.
As we all stay home and wait for the coronavirus outbreak to settle down, many of us are faced with the task of homeschooling our children while somehow managing to fit in a full day’s work. Homeschooling is something many parents have no experience in. When all the continuing demands of work are piled on top of this brand-new responsibility, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Single parents and those who are juggling co-parenting duties on top of all this are facing even more complications.
Yet, parents everywhere are somehow managing. So how are they making it work?
If you’re facing these two new roles at the same time, Natalie Baird Mediations is offering a few tips on how to make it work for the whole household.
1. Give Yourself Time (and Forgiveness)
It will take time to adjust to this new normal, so give yourself proper space to adjust. If you go in with strict expectations on how things will work, you’ll only be disappointed. Instead, go in with an open mind and expect to run into challenges and then find solutions. Practice forgiving yourself if you’re not the teacher you’d like to be or if you’re having trouble focusing on work because the kids are demanding your attention.
2. Create a Routine You Can Stick With
Everyone functions better with a little bit of routine. This doesn’t have to look the same as their typical school day or your workday – in fact, it shouldn’t. Circumstances are very different, so the days will look quite different too. It’s still a good idea to create a schedule of some sort to create order amongst the madness and give everyone some sense of routine. If you’re sharing parenting duties with a co-parent, try to work together to come up with a schedule that works for everyone.
3. Get Creative With It
Without access to your office or all the typical resources a teacher has, both school and work will require a bit of creativity. For example, turn what is normally the guest room into a pop-up workspace by adding a desk and an ergonomic chair. Tell your children that when the “office” door is closed, important work is taking place and you should not be disturbed. You may also need to get creative with lessons – don’t be afraid to bring back the baking soda and vinegar volcanoes for a little old-school science fun.
4. Create Distinctions Between Work and Play Time
When you’re working, playing, sleeping, and eating all from home, boundaries can get a little fuzzy. To separate the work/school day from after-hours, create an end-of-the-day routine that you and your children can participate in. A great example is a group tidy-up followed by an outdoor chat about everyone’s day. When you head back into your cleaned house, you can relax into a work-free zone.
5. Help the Kids Help Themselves
There will be times when you’re not readable available to your children for every question or concern due to work. Prepare for these moments in advance and help your kids help themselves by providing them with dictionaries, a note pad where burning questions can get saved for later, and pre-made snacks and lunches. That way, they can figure things out on their own or wait until you can come help.
6. Integrate Household Responsibilities
Your kids’ day of homeschool doesn’t need to include math problems and reading comprehension from 8 am to 2 pm. Even when school is in session as usual, that doesn’t happen. Rather, there are periods of free time, physical activity, lunch, music, and much more. To give your days a bit of variety while also keeping up with the house, incorporate household responsibilities into the schedule. Things like a quick dog walk, taking out the trash, or cleaning the counters can break up the day while slowly tackling your to-do list.
7. Keep Entertainment Accessible
It’s no secret that children can get bored easily. Beat the boredom blue by compiling all of the entertainment resources you have in one place for easy access. You can include books, puzzles, games, arts and crafts, DVDs, tablets with educational capabilities, and more. Whenever your kids are looking for something to fill the time, they’ll know exactly where to go rather than coming to you for solutions.
Appreciate the Memories Made
While this time is stressful for many, it’s also a rare opportunity to share extra time with our families that normal, busy routines don’t allow. So take a few moments to slow down and appreciate all the giggles and the questions and the togetherness. After all of this is over, you’ll have sweet memories to look back on.
For more guidance on how to manage your co-parenting arrangement with your ex, visit the Natalie Baird Mediations blog. If you’re dealing with a divorce on top of working-from-home and homeschooling, contact our collaborative law and mediation experts to schedule a virtual session.