Navigating working, living, caregiving and schooling from home: A few simple tips
By Leah Persky • Family Life Education Manager
I, like most parents I know, never thought I would homeschool my children. Don’t get me wrong – I love my children and I love learning, but I never thought I would be particularly well-suited to teach them in a school-like setting; and I am an educator by training! But today, so many of us find ourselves in exactly that position – our children’s parent and teacher (at least for the next month or so).
This position becomes even more complicated when you have multiple children with different needs and interests, a house and chores to keep up with, maybe a pet or two, maybe a job outside of the home you must keep up with, and the uncertainty of what tomorrow and next week will hold for all of us.
Below are a few things that I have found helpful. They are simple and free or low cost – I hope they help all the parents and caregivers out there in some small way:
Be gentle on yourself: This is not an easy time; it is all new. Celebrate the small victories (for example I made cupcakes with my kids and they actually tasted good and we had fun) and learn from your mistakes (trying to fit too much into a day of homeschool, for example). Being gentle on yourself also means that you need at least 15 minutes of time just for you each day – ideally closer to an hour. Do what you need to do to get this time for you. It is not selfish, it is a requirement!
Get outside some everyday: Fresh air and green space is good for the body and mind.
Take it one day at a time: It is a difficult time to stay present and feeling thankful, but if you can, it really shifts your outlook. It is near impossible to feel mad or angry when you are grateful, even for one small thing (the coming spring and warmer temps or that morning cup of coffee).
Do what works for you and your family: I have been feeling so lucky to connect virtually with friends and family through a variety of apps and platforms. But it is also overwhelming. I know some parents who are trying to juggle the virtual meetings and schedules for themselves and their kids. If it feels like too much to you, it is too much. Say no to things that don’t meet your needs. I know that after looking at screens all day between my work and children’s school work, I feel fried. Virtual connection is good, but know there can be too much of a good thing.
I have also found that those beautiful and colorful home school schedules do not work well for us. Transitions are hard for my kids. I have found that blocks of time work better for us. A loose plan for the day and few routines in the same order work for us, but that is as far as our schedule goes. A general theme for the day is enough to guide our work. I felt bad not sticking to a clear schedule, but I had to let it go to maintain my sanity.
Create a journal: This can take many forms. Maybe a gratitude journal or a family journal or just a plain old dairy. If your kids are 5 or older, they will probably remember this time. Most likely, we won’t get another such time together with our kids. We will also probably forget the details, so go ahead and write them down and mark this time together. Think of looking back at this time in five years—the feelings and emotions will stick with us, but we will most likely forget most of the everyday. Use this as an opportunity to reflect and mark the passage of time together.
Please reach out to me, Leah Persky, Family Life Education Manager and Certified Family Life Educator, if you need assistance or want to talk about adjusting to the new work and school schedules and managing challenging behavior while maintaining caregiving duties. Feel free to connect if you simply need strategies for working and living from home during physical distancing. I am still hard at work and experimenting with things along the way. Yesterday the new microscope was a win and the online gymnastics class, well, not so much. . . we will try again later this week. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can find a time talk. Be well – know we are all in this together!