Many parents are currently juggling caring for their children with their professional responsibilities, a task that is not only challenging, but depending on the age of the child(ren), nearly impossible to do without sacrificing parts of both. Here, we will outline some suggestions for setting up a home routine during the current health crisis.
Tag-team your schedules
If there is a second parent, another adult, or an older child in the home, try to coordinate your schedules so that you are not all working the same hours. Some parents have tried to spread their work out over seven days rather than five, and others are starting, ending, and taking breaks at different times.
Create a schedule that encourages and builds independence
Even as young as preschool, teachers build in parts of the day when children are expected to work or play independently. If you have meetings or conference calls at a certain time, schedule an activity for your child that you know will keep his or her attention. Some examples include a video or other screen time, independent play if your child is able to do so, or rest or nap time.
Use this time to for your child to review
No school expects parents to roll out the curriculum as if they were the teachers. Focus on reviewing math facts and drills and reading and writing skills. There are many apps and games available that help children reinforce these skills. Remember that your situation is not unique and that the entire school system will be responsible for catching our students up when they return to school.
Connect with relatives on a schedule
Does your child have an aunt, uncle, or grandparent who would FaceTime with him/her on a regular basis? Build this into your routine so you can have that block of time to take care of other responsibilities.
Post the schedule and refer to it throughout the day
Post the schedule at the start of the day and let your child know what to expect. The more prepared a child is for the times of day when he or she has to be independent, the higher the chance for success. Build in some back-up plans as well (what can he or she do if the activity is completed before you are ready to move on?).
Consider changing the schedule altogether
It may be impossible to oversee schoolwork during the school/workday. If you need your child to entertain him/herself with free play and screen-time while you work, it will be okay. Take a period of time at the end of the day, when you would typically be helping with or overseeing homework, and make that the schoolwork time. Remind yourself that you are not the only one doing this.
Include self-care in your schedule
Whether it’s simply getting a few minutes to yourself at the end of the day, going for a run or walk, or taking the dog out, build in time to take care of yourself. It has never been a more important time to take care of ourselves and in doing so, we can be better caretakers.
Lean on and support each other
Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. Everyone you work with who has children is in a similar situation, and there is a collective understanding among all of us that we are doing our best. A child interrupting your conference call right now is more likely to get an understanding “we get it” than criticism. What are your co-workers doing to juggle these responsibilities? Consider starting a message board or group chat that opens opportunities for you to share ideas with each other. Others may be grateful to learn that they are not alone with this challenge.
Early School Director/In-School Therapeutic Services Coordinator
Lucy Daniels Center | 9003 Weston Parkway | Cary, NC 27513
Phone: 919.677.1400 | Fax: 919.677.1489 | www.lucydanielscenter.org