Coping Tips for Parents Staying at Home with Children
Julie Wiley, communications specialist
If you’re one of the millions of parents staying home with your children during this challenging season in our world, there are things you can do to help ease tension and stress, as you try juggling work and family.
Normally, working parents are used to waking up early, getting themselves and their children ready for the day which includes preparing breakfast, driving them to school, then heading to the office to tackle their work day.
But for the past few days, parents are having to switch gears by no longer having to drive kids to and from school – their homes have now been transformed into classrooms and workspaces. This new set-up can become overwhelming for parents who need to work and now are faced with serving as temporary educators for their school-aged kids.
Dayanara Santiago, a coordinator for Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ Parenting Program, said once she implemented a daily schedule for her children, it added structure to their day. She has four children, ages 18, 12, 13, and 8, at home. She said she and her husband work together to keep their children on track with school work.
Amanda Greer, supervisor for Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ Parenting Program, agrees. She said it’s important to have a game plan for each day. While her children are not school-age yet, they require plenty of attention throughout the day. She and her husband collaborate with each other so they can focus on work, while caring for their two little ones, ages three and 18-months.
The following is a list of tips, prepared by Amanda and Dayanara that can help others, as parents across our community and world learn how to adapt to a “new normal” way of life:
- Implementing a daily or weekly schedule/routine and stick to it.
- Preparing healthy meals and snacks. Try preparing meals the night before so you save time during the day.
- Scheduling nap and/or quiet time.
- Staying connected with other parents for support and ideas. Find out what’s working for them and share what’s working for you.
- Staying connected with your child’s teachers and school districts for important school work updates.
- Going outdoors for recreation time – basketball, volleyball, etc.
- Coordinating weekly Bible studies for the family and allowing time for children to express their feelings about the current situation.
- Creating movie nights, watching reruns of your favorite shows and letting children participate in selecting movies and shows.
- Playing board games or trying new online games for the whole family.
- Challenging children to read books and rewarding them for the number of books read each week – check with your local school for free online books available to students.
- Engaging children with fun hobbies like painting, coloring, or creating a garden and planting seeds. There are a variety of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) ideas and guides available online.
- Set aside time during your day for a daily devotional.
- Utilize YouTube videos for ideas on Bible topics for kids.
- Encourage children to write letters or create greeting cards for sending to their grandparents, as well as seniors who are living in a nursing home.
- Assign children to help with housecleaning, especially in their rooms (making their beds every day).
- If you have pets, ask your children to help bathe and feed them.
- Go for walks with your children or get your bikes out and go riding.
- Communicating with your spouse or others helping you at home is key in staying on track with daily tasks. By communicating, you’ll be able to tackle your work projects and attend virtual meetings, as needed to get your work done.
“My husband and I find that it’s extremely important to keep the communication line open between us so that we are on the same page,” explained Amanda. “Talking with each other about what’s on our minds, whether its frustration or anything else, will help prevent miscommunication or arguments from occurring.”
Dayanara said it’s important to talk to your kids about what’s happening in our world. Being honest and open is best. “I take time to listen to my kids and their concerns. If they ask me about the virus and how it is impacting our world, I will try to explain as best I can. By doing this, it will help ease their fears and worries.”
She also said that if your child needs help with a school assignment, allow yourself to stop working and go help them. “If my child needs help, I’ll go and help them. If I see that it’s going to take longer, we will skip it and come back to it later.”
Amanda said, “You have to become strategic in how you manage your day. Do your best to stay on track but also be realistic. Don’t’ be hard on yourself.”
“It’s getting easier as the days pass. We are coming along as a family. On the positive side, I love that we are together and dedicating more time with each other and I’m saving gas since I don’t have to drive anywhere, except for necessary items. I know that God is with us through this time,” said Dayanara.