Parental overwhelm during COVID-19 is real. Here’s how to cope. A LinkedIn survey found out that 59% of female parents and 47% of male parents said they were unable to focus on work with children at home. For both male and female parents, they reported being unable to keep their children occupied throughout the day when they were supposed to be working. As the year progresses and there appears to be no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, more employers are encouraging their employees to work from home. In some industries, experts think working from home will become the new normal. To top that off, some surveys show that some employees prefer to work from home because they’re more productive.
A lot of workers are grateful to not have to commute to an office every day and for how much it saves them in gas. But for parents, although they may be grateful for a reduced commute, they have extra responsibilities that make work challenging. With schools in some states of the US closed until next year, they have the added responsibility of homeschooling, keeping children occupied in addition to being productive with their work.
How can parents cope during COVID-19 with prolonged shut-down periods and continue to be productive? In this post we offer 5 suggestions to help cope with the parental overwhelm that comes with working at home with children in the long-term.
It’s alright to accept and verbalize your overwhelm
Doctors say the first step to solving a medical problem is to come up with a diagnosis. They have a reference point to work with from then on.
The same goes for anything that causes stress in your life. If you find that working from home has been extra stressful because balancing parenting and work is a struggle, admit it to yourself. It is alright to admit that this is hard. Your job requires a lot of you and so does parenting. Don’t feel bad when you realize that this is the reason you are not as productive as you might want to be.
Speak to your boss
Open communication solves a myriad of problems. If your boss does not know that your responsibility as a parent is interfering with your ability to produce, they may just think you’re ignoring the work. Most people understand that we live in times like no other. Explain your situation to them. We can’t guarantee that every boss or supervisor will be understanding. But, it is better to communicate than to say nothing. This communication might lead to a deadline extension or your boss might get someone to help you with a project so it’s completed on time.
Schedule some productivity time before the kids are up
Almost every parent during COVID-19 is familiar with the following saga. You wake up early in the morning to sneak an hour or two of work in before the kids wake up. You freshen up, fire up the computer and are ready to go. Next thing, you hear a patter of tiny footsteps towards you: your child is up. This is such a difficult scenario!
In spite of this however, it is likely that you will get more work done while your children are asleep. In those instances, it might be better to work when:
- Your children are still asleep in the early hours of the morning
- Your children take a nap during the day
- They fall asleep at night
All of these will require a bit of sacrifice on your part especially at the end of the day when you are tired too and would like to fall asleep as well. However, scheduling a focused period of work when your children fall asleep can go a long way to helping you be productive and reducing parental overwhelm.
Get the children involved during the day
Children have a lot of energy and love to be busy. They can also be easily bored and this is where parents may have a hard time finding activities that keep them occupied.
YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest have a plethora of channels and pages that have cropped up during this season that help you find activities that will keep your child occupied throughout the day. And while they are at it, get involved yourself! Play is good for adults too.
Develop morning and night routines (include the children in this!)
Morning and night time routines inform your brain of an activity that is about to happen and prepares your body physiologically to perform the following tasks.
Having a morning routine that also involves your children can be an excellent way to kick off the day and ensure that you are productive and that your children cooperate throughout the day.
Night time routines also inform your brain (and children!) that the day has ended and it’s time to head to bed. Having somewhat of a regular routine can be helpful in getting the whole family on-board with what needs to be done throughout the day.
Parenting during this pandemic may have been your biggest challenge yet. These suggestions can help you cope with this temporary situation and reduce parental overwhelm.