There is arguably nothing harder than being a working parent during the coronavirus quarantine. Parents across the world have suddenly been dropped into full-time parenting, home school teaching, while needing to maintain their full-time work schedule from home.
So how do you manage?
How do you take care of your job, yourself, and your kids all of the time?
We talked to three full-time working parents this week to get their tips on how to keep their kids engaged and themselves sane during this isolation order.
Here are 7 tips for working parents during quarantine to keep your kids engaged & you sane!
1. Create a sense of normalcy.
Our first tip for working parents during this quarantine is to create a sense of normalcy during this un normal time. Things are out of whack — as much for your kids as for you. Do your best to create routines and a sense of normalcy during the quarantine. Kids are highly adaptable and will cleave to regularity. Continue to wake them up in time for school, be strict about bedtimes, and (if they’re in school) give them a workspace! Similarly, do the same for yourself. Create an office space for yourself, get dressed, and stick to your habits.
Blake Stephenson publisher at Modern Luxury magazine and mom to 12-year-old girl said, “When she’s done with her school day, I ask her: what did you learn? What does your math homework look like? How was your day? I engage with her in conversation like I would if I were picking her up to maintain a sense of normalcy in our day.”
Whether you are able to establish a strict routine or whether it’s simply that you watch a movie together every afternoon, routines will help offer a sense of normalcy for your family. This, in turn, will foster the emotional health that we all need in quarantine.
2. Switch it up.
While normalcy is vital for kids, the quarantine can feel monotonous to adults. Switch it up for yourself. Pick a new hobby, try a new cocktail, or order from a restaurant you’ve never tried before. If there was ever a time to try something new, it’s now.
Christopher Halstedt, financial advisor and father to 2 and 4-year-old kids, says that the hardest part for himself is the sense that every day is the same. “My wife, Lauren, and I have survived,” he says, “…by adding variety best we can. We order from different food places, we’re trying our hand at gardening, and we communicate with old friends.”
3. Create space for yourself.
Creating a space for yourself is imperative — especially for working parents. If you can, physically create a space that’s off-limits. Christopher says isolation from the family was the only way he could stay plugged in. He works on the 3rd floor of the house, while the children ran around below.
If that’s not an option for you, give yourself time to yourself. Lauren Halstedt (commercial real estate broker and parent of two) says, “I was doing it all at night after the kids went to bed. That’s when I’d answer emails, do my research, and get done what I needed to for myself.”
Put some headphones in, lock your door, create a new office space…do what you need to find time to yourself. This will help you stay productive in your work-life and calm within yourself.
4. Take breaks with your kids.
If you’re lucky enough to have kids that are a little bit older, be sure to take breaks with your kids. In quarantine, people are hugely isolated and missing the social aspect of their lives. So, when you need a break, go hang out with your child!
It can be tempting to think you need to isolate completely to be productive, but that’s simply not true. Your kids are your new co-workers. You have each other, so chit chat on breaks and enjoy the sociality.
“When she takes a break, I’ll take a break. She’ll come into my office, and I’ll drop what I’m doing to have that time together.”Blake Stephenson
5. Go outdoors together.
While playgrounds are generally closed down, the outdoors is still yours for the taking! Getting outside will revitalize you and your family — even on the hardest days. Nature is healing and a necessary part of a healthy life, so be sure to get outside and get some of it.
Besides, backyards are perfect ways to keep the kids busy and happy. Lauren says, “There’s so much time outdoors — walking the dogs, playing on the swings, and chasing ladybugs. It keeps them happy and engaged.”
Growing a garden is a superb way to get your kids outdoors. As a long term project, it will keep them engaged and excited about every single day. Plus, gardening is a great way to teach them a few extra science lessons.
6. Embrace the togetherness.
As Blake noted, “The usual boundaries, I have to admit, don’t exist. I see it as an opportunity for my daughter to see what I do and vice versa. It’s beautiful for see to see each other the nuances of our life.”
The togetherness of quarantine is inevitable and, while it may not be ideal, there are wonderful things about it. If it’s out of your control, decide to embrace the togetherness! Take this as an opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of your kids’ lives — and for them to see what it takes to get through an adult workday. It will increase empathy in your home and create a deeper bond than ever before.
7. Talk about what you do have.
This may be the easiest of our tips for working parents during quarantine. Quarantine is frustrating, and it feels like many things have been taken away from us. In order to survive this, talk about what you do have. Empower your kids to feel gratitude. Every day, Blake has a conversation with her daughter about what they are grateful for: their health, their work and school, and each other.
“I try constantly to maintain the perspective that this is short term — and that I’m going to miss the opportunity to hang out with my kids 24/7 one day.”Lauren Halstedt
Acknowledging what you have (and being grateful for it) will make you and your kids happier. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your home. It will help keep you sane during this crazy time and help you push through to the end.