Parenting is challenging enough on a normal day. However, when many families are being forced to make decisions about working from home or at the office, and sending their students to school or keeping them home for distant learning, there are new elements of frustration every day.
If you worked from home already or started working from home when COVID hit the country, you know that it is not all sunshine and roses. Working from home can be more challenging than going to work because you have to have a rigid schedule and not get distracted by the dishes in the sink or mound of laundry that needs attention.
For those who have children, the added decisions to send their kids back to school or keep them home to do distant learning has been placed on many families’ shoulders. However, some school districts around the country started the school year off with everyone remote learning, just like they ended the school year in the spring.
While many parents struggled to get through the end of the school year, with hopes that their children would return in the fall, some are more prepared than others when it comes to balancing working from home and school distant learning schedules.
What Can You Do to Minimize Stress?
The first thing you need to do is see if you still are required to be working from home. If you have been given a choice, weighing the pros and cons of working from home will be your first task. If your kids are doing full-time schooling from home, and they are young, they will need help. If they are on a hybrid schedule, then they will only be home two or three days a week for school.
Next, ask yourself, can you work from home and help your kids with online school at the same time? If the answer is no, then you need to look at your options. Do you have a relative that can help your children with their school work during the day? A spouse, aunt, grandparent, etc.?
If the answer is no, then consider hiring someone to come into your home and help your kids with their school work. If your children are older, they should be more self-sufficient to manage their school day with minimal assistance. However, if your children are younger, they will need more supervision and help. If your job requires you to be focused, you will need someone to help your kids. If it is cost-effective to hire a babysitter so that you can work, versus not working at all, then that is a good option to reduce the amount of stress on your plate.
I Have a Flexible Work Schedule, But Struggle to Get My Work Done
This is a common problem for those who have their own business or work for a company that lets you work a flexible schedule when their children are also distance learning. The best way to navigate work and helping your children is to set aside specific times where you will be able to work without interruption. Yes, this may be a change for your family, but scheduling out your day is the best option to be able to work efficiently and help your children with school work with minimal stress.
Some things that you can do to get your “work time” in without interruption:
- Schedule reading time for your children. If they are too young to read, have an older sibling read to a younger sibling. Picture books or coloring books are also a good option.
- Schedule rest time. Your children can nap or relax in their room for a set amount of time.
- Have the kids go outside and play for a set amount of time each day. If the weather is bad, or your children are too little to go out by themselves, then they can pick an indoor game from a pre-established list of ideas.
- Have your children do chores while you work. Have a pre-established chore list and provide incentives if they can complete them sufficiently without interrupting you.
- Work odd hours. If you are unable to work during the day, and you cannot bring someone in to watch your children, you may want to talk to your boss about working early in the morning or late at night, instead of “office hours.” While parents can pull off amazing things, sometimes the only one who is able to be flexible is you; just do your best to get it all done.
- Talk to the school about having your kids do their school work on off-hours. If you cannot change your work schedule, then maybe you can get your children’s school schedule altered. Homeschooling parents are able to do this all the time successfully, so if it comes down to it, have your children complete their work on nights and weekends, rather than during daytime hours.
Do Not Forget Self Care
One of the most important things to keep in mind is to take care of your mental and physical self. Take an hour and get a massage or pedicure, listen to music while taking a long bath, or set aside time to do your favorite hobby or activity. The more you are able to care for yourself, the better you will be able to manage your family’s hectic schedule. For ideas on how to do this, read more here.
If you are really stressed out and are getting depressed or frustrated trying to manage everything, it may be a good idea to talk to a BetterHelp counselor. They can help you sort out your priorities and learn to relax so that you can work through a more manageable schedule and be clear headed in the process.
About the author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.