After almost three weeks of social distancing and stay-at-home orders with a least a month more on the horizon, you’ve probably settled into your new normal, right? That’s laughable. If you’re a parent with kids at home while you’re trying to work, you’ve probably felt all the emotions. Even though you may feel alone, you are NOT alone. I can’t stress that enough.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog titled Managing Work/Family During Social Distancing. Implementing all these changes I suggested has been challenging, and I don’t stick to my own advice every day. On that note, I think it’s important to level with you, parent to parent, mom to mom, at-home employee to at-home employee.
Right now, I am working from home full-time, and my husband is still working outside our home. I have two preschoolers who have assignments due by 8 p.m. on their respective school days. Managing homelife, work life, and teacher life is quite stressful—especially when they all occur in the same space!
Honestly, I haven’t been this stressed out since I was a first-time working mom in 2015. Typically, I thrive on routines and schedules, but this adjustment has been much harder than I anticipated. What’s a mom to do? I took a hard look at life and decided to focus on what’s necessary for survival.
What Has to Get Done?
What I’ve found most important in retaining my sanity is determining what has to get done every day. For work, I set daily goals I need to meet. Next, I must email pictures of particular school assignments to my kids’ teachers. Full transparency: we don’t always get through all the school activities, but we do our best.
As much as I would love to spend my entire day doing fun crafts and exploring the backyard, I still have to actively work and complete projects. Many days, we spend the late mornings or early afternoons doing some schoolwork and then finish up before or after dinner.
Speaking of food, some meals are wholesome and homemade, while others include something simple, like grilled cheese and tomato soup. The laundry gets done one day a week, along with other heavier cleaning. If it can wait, it waits.
Anticipate Constant Interruption.
We’re all stir crazy at this point, so focusing and concentrating for long periods of time is virtually impossible. As soon as I think I’m going to be able to get something done, I hear, “Mom, I need a snack,” “Mom, I want you to play with me,” “Mom…Mom…Mom…”
There’s really no solution to navigate the interruptions. Short, but engaging, activities will give you enough time to tend to the must-dos. Some of our go-to activities include taking a walk with the dog (to tire them out), coloring, free play with toys, and building with LEGOS. The girls also enjoy any and all messy crafts, but I reserve those for lunch breaks and evenings.
Let Them Sleep.
The adage “Never wake a sleeping baby” is still true for kids—at least in my opinion. I’ve been letting my girls sleep in every day. Sure, they are up much later at night, but at least I know that I have more time in the mornings to get some uninterrupted work done before chaos ensues.
At our house, the kids can sleep in anywhere between 8 and 11 a.m. (Gasp if you must, but I need some me time.) This also means they can easily stay up until 10 or 11 at night. My trade-off is no time to decompress at night unless I want to stay up until midnight. If your kids are early risers, there’s no harm in “Saturday morning cartoons” every day while you complete your most time-sensitive work.
Make Screen Time Educational.
While screen time is typically limited on our normal schedule, I’ve been more lax right now. However, I’ve been sneaking in some education, and they don’t even realize it.
Khan Academy Kids is an excellent free app that engages children in fun activities while teaching them about all types of concepts. There are videos, narrated books, and games that are fun, yet educational.
PBS Kids is also a family favorite that includes free video and games apps that incorporate skills and learning with classic television characters. These apps help me feel less guilty about the amount of daily screen time I allow.
It’s important to give yourself and your children some grace during a time that is certainly confusing for us all. Remember, it’s ok to feel like you don’t have it all together. Most of us don’t. This time is all about survival—in every aspect of the word: emotionally, mentally, and physically.
We are all in unique situations, and each of them is hard. Know that no matter the circumstances, you have solidarity. Make sure you do something for yourself every day, even if it’s taking a shower or hiding in the pantry to eat the last brownie.
Try to keep things in perspective. When your kids look back at this season, they will remember all the family time and fun instead of the social distancing. Most importantly, we’re all in this together.
Because we all feel so disconnected, our team at Lincoln Learning feels it’s important to connect with our online community. Please share your thoughts, feelings, or frustrations with your new normal in the comments below. We’ll help as best we can. Stay strong. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Nicole Thompson is the 6-8 English Language Arts Lead for Lincoln Learning Solutions and has been with the company six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Science in Instructional Leadership, with certifications in English and Communications. Nicole is married with three children and has a spunky golden retriever named Cinder. She sings at local churches and volunteers for the Butler County Humane Society, writing animal biographies and social media posts, and working fundraising events.