Young mother with toddler child working on the computer from home.Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many parents across the nation are juggling a new dynamic they haven’t had to before – working at home with their children.

Many schools across the globe have closed as a result of the spread of COVID-19, which has put children at home and lessons online. Of course, many adults have also moved to work from home if they’re able to in their occupation.

While some parents may have experienced this in spades before, working from home with a sick child for a day or due to a special holiday schedule or bad weather or something else of the like, many parents have not had to at this intensity before.

This dynamic is poised to present complications, especially as adults and children are encouraged to stay at home longer.

If you’re a parent who is struggling to manage a new work-life balance, working remotely while trying to keep your children at ease, you’re not alone, and we have several tips to offer to help you create the best environment for you and your children.

1. Set Boundaries

This is especially important for younger children. It’s critical that you provide clarity upfront about what is expected of them and you during this time.

Father and school-girl working form home, telework and e-learning

While you may discourage them from watching TV or playing phone or video games throughout the year, now may be the time to be more flexible about it if their classes are not being made available online.*

Put out some puzzles, board games, or books for them. Encouraging literacy at every age is especially great. There are many ways that you can keep your children occupied.

Prioritize with activities that require little supervision from you. Get some printer paper and crayons or markers out that they can draw with if they’re smaller. Get out toys that require more thinking like Legos.

Teens will require different stimulation than younger children, such as watching inspirational films, writing stories, video chatting with their friends, etc. Whatever their age, let their minds be creative and stimulated to allow you to focus on what you need to.

It’s okay to establish a “do not disturb” boundary with your children during work hours. For smaller children, you might take this even more literally and actually put up a sign, whether you write the words on a piece of paper and hang it on your workspace door, put your headphones in, or assign a piece of red paper as “do not disturb” and green as “available” and hang it on your door.

Boundaries are essential for you as a parent and your child. They help to establish a “new normal” in a time of uncertainty and create new routines.

*You can also take advantage of Scholastic’s Free Resources for School Closures here for day-to-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.

2. Take breaks with your children

Funny kids are eating, tasting italian homemade pizza in kitchen. Child is capricious, disgusted by food. Little girl dislikes, refuses and hates hot meal. Candid emotions. Lifestyle, authentic moment

Working from home full-time can set you up to overwork yourself. Try to set and keep your regular schedule and balance. Take your lunch break with your children.

Take the time to all sit down for a meal, touch base, and talk about your plans for the rest of the day. Coordinating and creating a routine will help you all during this time.

Take a step back to give yourself time to rejuvenate and refresh. Staring at a computer screen for hours on end isn’t good during a normal day. Keep up your same nutrition and exercise habits as best you can during this time. The closer you can stay to your core routines inside of your home, the better.

Taking breaks together can also help you to get away from technology. While it’s great that we can use it to maintain our workflows and communication with peers, colleagues, leadership, friends, and family, we still need a balance with it. Step away from screens when you can take breaks together.

Maintain your connections at this level.

3. Alternate check-ins on your children with your spouse

Dad and kid with toys on background build of plastic blocks. Father and son with serious faces create constructions of bricks. Family and childhood concept. Man and boy play on wooden wall background

Not all parents will have this option, but if you are a two-person team, be sure to alternate check-ins with your children while you’re working from home, especially if they’re very young.

Or if you have older children who can help you manage your younger children, utilize this dynamic.

Teamwork goes a long way.

If you don’t have these options, however, be sure to keep your routines and schedules succinct throughout this time period to keep your children engaged and allow you to focus. Set expectations for them to do their homework, chores, and allow time for games too. They will thrive off of your direction and management.

It’s all about balance and watching out for everyone’s health and wellbeing.

happy mother's day! family mother and child daughter hugging in kitchen on floor

4. Try to Worry Less

Easier said than done, right?

Stress generally won't help any of us in difficult times. Stress adds negativity to any situation, whereas if we allow ourselves to focus on the things that we can control, we are more likely to have positive and calm thoughts. Click To Tweet

Throughout our lives, we will always have problems, but it’s how we manage them that makes the difference. 

It’s okay to lighten up on video games and TV. Certainly, you don’t want your children staring at screens 24/7. As previously encouraged, it’s important to balance with the non-digital too, but remember to give yourself some credit and let your typical restrictions lighten where needed.

This is an abnormal situation that all parents are trying to navigate as best they can. Being a parent always means navigating the situation at hand, no matter how many times you’ve done it or haven’t at all. It’s about being in the moment.

All you can do is your best. Play by ear. Adapt. Take it day-by-day.

You can only learn by experience and be kind and patient with yourself and your kids in the process.

5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Worried single father comforting upset kid son helping with problem

Young children may be coming to you with a lot of questions during this time. That’s natural at any time of year, but perhaps especially now. Listen to your children, empathize, and respond with sensitivity.

The best thing we can do with our children and with each other is to spread kindness, not panic. Inflaming anxieties will not help. Provide honesty and comfort at this time. Experts have advised parents to explain the scenario to children in an honest, age-appropriate, non-alarming manner. 

Consider being in their shoes right now – provide the same comfort and message you’d want from your parent if you were your child’s age during this time.

Be there for each other as a family unit when you’re feeling overwhelmed. We are bound to have human moments.  

While this situation is uncertain for us all, get back to the things you can control. Practice daily affirmations to help relieve stress. Read inspiring quotes or books. Do an online yoga or meditation class together with your children, spouse, or as a family.

Use this time to bond with them and be mindful of your entire family unit’s wellness. 

Make your schedule work for you all. Create your new normal.

Be well & keep your thoughts positive. We are in this together.

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