Balancing Family Life: Working and Studying Under One Roof

African American father with two daughters working on homework at the kitchen table.

...remember to be gentle and flexible with your family and especially with yourself.

The “new normal” we find ourselves in, balancing family time, home schooling 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 “new normal” 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, helping our kids manage remote learning. For many, this is new territory, but there are others who have done itand done it successfullyso 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 for 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 PowerPoints on fun subjects like, “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 while at home? Instead of keeping to a 9-to-5 schedule, start your day at 6 am 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 find time to work on the weekend. This flexible schedule can work for students too, as long as they log their required times maybe 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 be:
     
    • 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 in part the reason for the social distancing 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 D-H Employee Wellness Program.