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Hats Off to You!

by Mary Jo Liew ASEBP | April 23 2020

Taking care of children while working during COVID-19

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by what is happening in the world right now. Our daily lives have been turned upside down, we are missing our friends, families, and coworkers as we continue to self-isolate. Living in close quarters with our immediate family twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week is bound to give anyone a bit of cabin fever. If that isn’t challenging enough you may be juggling wearing multiple hats at the same time such as a parent, teacher, employee, staff, mentor, leader, co-worker, sibling, child, caregiver, chef, professional dishwasher, house cleaner, entertainer, dog walker or even cat person. There is no shortage of resources available for keeping your children at home active, educated, and entertained, but teaching is a full-time job and so is parenting.

While looking for resources and support on how to navigate this challenging situation of working and parenting simultaneously, I came across a quote that resonated with me, “You are not ‘working from home’, you’re at home during a crisis, trying to work”. As a parent with two young children, working from home can be challenging as I try to be present both at home and at work. My five-year-old son said to me the other day “Mom, l kind of like this COVID thing, I just want to spend time at home as a family”. While my son has a basic understanding of what is happening in the world, his perspective taught me a lesson on what matters most, our relationship, and the time we spend together.

As I try to continue to establish normalcy at home, below are some strategies that have proven helpful:

  1. Talk to your children about your work. Let them know why what you are doing is important and how they can help you when you need to focus on work.
  2. Establish a dedicated time to work. If work allows, flex your schedule to find time when children are sleeping to work.
  3. Talk to your children about social distancing. Ask your children what they think is happening around COVID-19 and address any fears they may have. Be realistic about the situation in a manner that is age appropriate for them. Let them know that they are safe at home and how staying home is helping to prevent the spread of viruses. 
  4. Model calm behavior. Talk to your children about how you are feeling but be mindful about how you react to situations. Children are like sponges and they learn vicariously through you.
  5. Be positive. Children will be more likely to see challenging situations as an opportunity if you can teach them to be positive.
  6. Establish a time to be present with your children by scheduling quality time with your children and give them your undivided attention. Read a book together, build a puzzle, or dust off those old board games. Let them know you will make time for them and follow through.
  7. Be active together with tips from Ever Active Schools. There are many fitness classes and activities that can be found online that can be done with kids. Physical activity is good for the mind and the heart. In addition, physical activity helps both children and adults sleep.
  8. Allow time to be creative. Paint a picture, build something with Lego, make some playdough, or build a fort. Being creative provides an outlet for you and your children to de-stress, stay calm, and have fun! 
  9. Make time for yourself. Ensure you get enough sleep and take time to recharge.

Children may not remember the specific lessons or curriculum during this time of uncertainty, but they will remember how you made them feel. Be kind to others and be kind to yourself. In time, this pandemic will become a thing of the past. Take this time to slow down, make memories, and don’t forget to remove your hats and have fun!

If you have tips on how to balance working and parenting at the same time, leave a comment below.

Mary Jo Liew

Mary Jo, or MJ as her family and friends call her, is an ASEBP workplace wellness consultant with a passion for all aspects of mental and physical wellness. When MJ isn’t at work, you can find her chasing after her two boys, or out for family walks with her goldendoodle dog. In her quest for balance she can be found teaching at her local barre studio, or working on testing the perfect cookie recipe.