Finding Balance with Virtual School and Work
Missing Peace Home Childcare Solutions, a local Nanny Agency serving DFW, TX, presents some tips on making peace in the midst of unprecedented challenge.
The school year has picked up, and families are finding themselves struggling as we juggle work, kids’ virtual classes and the demands of studying, social lives and extracurricular activities. Managing priorities can be a difficult task for parents and students alike. Especially, if a parent is managing virtual school and working from home.
We all have our story, where we were when the world shut down, and I daresay, for most of us, that memory is vivid and etched in our brains the same way that 911 was for many of us, nearly 2 decades ago. We are wearing masks as a fashion statement with personal style or as a tribute to the companies that we serve, and you can’t sneeze in public without folks looking at you sideways and stepping back a few steps. It’s comical and scary all at the same time and many of us struggle to figure out how to manage kids schedule with school; “my mom forgot about the zoom meeting,” while still participating in our work meetings. And let’s face it, those of us with elementary aged kids, especially the younger ones, aren’t balancing all that well. It’s simply an unrealistic expectation to give both work, AND parenting with education demands, 100%.
Here are some tips to help with the struggle, and hopefully it will help smooth out your day.
Set a Schedule:
Family meeting time. Each parent has a schedule for work and family, and now your kids daytime schedule that is your responsibility to run too, instead of the teachers’. Sure, teachers set and keep the schedule, but now we must stop whatever we are doing to ensure that little Jill makes it to her class on time. And then we must make sure she is staying on task and doing her assigned work afterwards. Those littles are not quite that autonomous yet. Setting a schedule can help.
If your child has specific class times, consider making a child friendly daily schedule with all the class times. Train them for the next week, after they finish a class, to look at the time for the next class and keep track. Have a clock nearby, so that they can learn to manage it. This skill takes practice but you will be surprised what they are capable of doing by themselves, even as young as 5 or 6. (Set reminders on your phone so that you can stay on top too).
Structure, Structure, Structure
The joke is out there about zoom meetings in PJ’s or button-down shirts with PJ bottoms. While this can be very tempting, you will be surprised how far it will go with the kids, to maintain some sense of normalcy regarding a school schedule. During the school year we have early bedtimes so they get good sleep, they get up early enough to dress (we make beds too), eat, pack a lunch, brush the teeth and either load up the car or pile into the bus. These steps are even more important today, even if “loading up the car” is just a walk down to the “kids office” for the first school meeting.
Getting to bed early for both parents and kids, will help everyone maintain balance, mind body and soul. Maintaining these routines, helps define the difference between school day and weekend which help minimize those school day meltdowns.
One more thing to keep in mind, tablet time (except for school requirements), TV time and video game time really must be left out of the school day. They would not have these things at school, and it will be much easier to prevent arguments or meltdowns around these topics if there is simply no option for it during school hours. Kids need unstructured play time (device free), and a LOT of it, to help their little brains develop and make connections. The breaks between classes are great times to do this. They are also great times to get in a family walk, run, bike or meditation. Which brings me to my next point:
As you design your family schedules, make sure to pencil time in for recharging during the day or in the evening (or both). This could look like family meditation which has been shown to have enormous benefits for children that struggle with meltdowns. Schedule active time each day, and this is important! Your kids need at least an hour of time playing outside. Running, biking, skating, sports or maybe you do a workout video as a family. This time is so important for everyone in the family and will help everyone maintain a little balance. Let’s face it, we all become short tempered after a long day staring at a screen for school/work and you child is no different. This time will create positive connections together while maintaining health for everyone.
Start the Day Right:
This goes right along with the structure piece. Set your day up right so that you get off to a positive start. Get up early enough to take your shower and enjoy your quiet time before kids. Make sure your child dresses for school. Have a healthy breakfast together that includes a protein, a carb and a fruit (example, ½ cup of non-sugar laden cereal with milk,
eggs and berries for the kids). Avoid sugary cereals (those that have more than 5-8 grams added sugar) because these added sugars make it hard for your child to stay focused during the school day and lead to mental crashes. Eating together as a family for breakfast, helps build in a morning connection before sending them to face the day (even if it’s just to their zoom meeting). Take time at the table to talk together about whatever. If you listen, they will talk and they say the funniest things.
Evening Family Time:
After the work-day and school day are done, play together. Disconnect from work, disconnect from your phone and that one is important. Be with your family. You simply are not present if your phone is in hand and you are constantly checking notifications or scrolling. Be present with your family and enjoy the rewards. Those notifications will be there when the kids are in bed and you will feel more relaxed when that pesky device isn’t pulling your attention away every 10 min. We tend to snap more readily at our family when we are involved in something on our devices and our child interrupts. These things can wait. Make sure to have an hour or 3 in the evening where those go up for everyone. This simple action helps maintain more family engagement and a more peaceful environment. Incorporate cooking together and eating together into the evening during this time.
Plan healthy meals that kids can cook with you encouraging their likelihood of eating well. Maybe let them help you find new recipes, so they have some new experiences. Then you can all enjoy your works at the table, and you have a great topic for conversation. Follow this up with a walk or a board game or reading time and you have set the kids up for a good nights’ sleep.
From our family to yours, we wish you peace and patience as we all continue to navigate the pandemic environment. Stay healthy and use this time to deepen connections that we were loosing by over-scheduling kids with activities before.
Need extra help during the day?
Consider a Nanny, or even Nanny sharing!