Like many parents, I have had to cancel trips, play dates and school holiday activities thanks to the lockdown currently in place in the greater Sydney area. And like many parents, that also meant working from home with my kids on my shoulder, asking for their next snack or a chance to get out of the house. It’s an impossible juggling act, made worse by last week’s humid weather that kept us indoors.
According to the results of the survey of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, 67% of Australian parents work from home (25% more since Australia closures began in 2020), but their experiences are far from seamless, and 49% say they find it difficult to combine work and care responsibilities, and 40% say that they “always or frequently actively cared for children while working”.
So how do you manage?
Rachel Tomlinson, a registered psychologist and author of Teaching Kids to be Kind, suggests trying to keep your children as close to their usual routines as possible, including packing their lunch boxes, to protect their “sense of coherence and security.”
The “random nature” of the confinement and the lack of preparation or awareness that often comes with it, coupled with the confusion around Covid-19 itself, makes it an emotional time for children, who are “not coping well. to change in the best of cases. ” times “. Setting clear expectations, routines, and limits can also help children adjust to their work schedule.
“Having clear signs or symbols that represent times or situations where parents cannot be interrupted, like a sign on the office door or headphones on, is really important,” she says. “If we involve them in planning for the day, or in negotiations on how the boundaries are set, they are more likely to abide by the rules … because they participated in the process.”
She also advises taking time to really be present with your kids, looking into their eyes, sitting close, and engaging in quality interactions without the distractions of work or the phones.
Then when she needs to work, she suggests choosing tasks for the children that offer “sustained participation.” Having a “check box” or an activity list can go a long way in keeping kids busy long enough for you to tackle your to-do list.
“Set up activities that involve delayed gratification or some future goal, like … planting some herbs or an art project,” he says. “Balance your activities and plan something to accomplish [their] different needs: physical, emotional, social “.
Don’t save virtual meetings to yourself, either, Tomlinson advises. Put your kids to work on online courses, video demos, or even games and quiz sessions with friends and family online.
This was the exact thinking of Andrea Christie-David when she extended the services of Leor, the early childhood education and disability-at-home support service she founded in 2018, to families stranded at home during the 2020 closures. .
He knew there was a demand for a “fun and engaging interactive learning program” that could free up parents for an hour each day. She is hosting free online playgroups for families at 11am AEST every day of the week through July 9. Families can book playgroups online through Leor’s Facebook Page, and they can expect their children to do things like yoga, crafts, show and tell, and treasure hunts with items around the home that they can then show off to other children in the group.
“We have been overwhelmed by how engaged the children have been… they have focused on yoga and completed craft activities with other children online,” she says.
If you’re reading this and wondering about your own child’s attention span, don’t worry, because resilience educator and parent Fiona Perrella says boredom can be healthy for your kids, too.
“Every time you find something they can do, you are teaching them that their entertainment depends on other people,” he says. “The confinement is an opportunity for your children to develop the ability to entertain themselves.”
Perrella founded Strength Heroes, which creates art and play experiences for kids, in 2012. She offers activity ideas on Facebook and Instagram, as well as a free downloadable activity kit on the Strength Heroes website.
Like Tomlinson, she says that creating a daily plan with your kids with blocks of time for different purposes, and sticking to it, can be an effective way to safeguard work time. It places the responsibility on them to address their own boredom.
As you work, children can choose activities from a boredom table or jar, which contains tasks that they have prepared themselves.
Stuck with ideas? Go to social media, where lists of ideas from parents abound. Sydney mom Daniela Minns List of activities without a screen has supposedly went viral. While some tasks require parental supervision, others can be modified for the working parent by setting them as a challenge.
Perrella also has a prosocial approach to her strategies, such as writing cards or drawing pictures for people in local nursing homes, chatting with grandparents about her childhood on Facetime, and writing “stranger” cards to her friends.
Tomlinson says parents should also be gentle with themselves: practical with their own production, accepting of fluctuations in their energy levels, and firm in normalizing their feelings and self-care.
“It is important to be realistic,” he says. “Most parents do not have degrees in early childhood education or education, [and don’t have] extra hours in the day to deal with extra tasks. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism