parent working from home with children at table

In what has been a demanding and – frankly – harrowing year, parents are working to ensure their children have some semblance of normalcy as they go back to school this fall. For many, school is virtual and you may be cringing as you remember the emergency remote teaching and learning that happened this spring. You  juggled full workloads, some type of online learning,  and frustrated kids. All on top of the psychological stress of being home and the fear of you or loved ones getting sick. The idea of going back to that again is well, daunting to say the least.

This fall can and should be different. While you may have reservations about how you can possibly be a good parent and a good employee, you should take heart in what you learned from this spring and focus on what is under your control. In my home and at work, I’ve noticed these three tips have helped me find a better balance between home life and work in 2020. 

Catch and Stop the Negative Self Talk 

It is all too easy to let stress and false expectations lead to negative self talk. Especially as parents we take on every problem as though it’s well within our realm to solve, even the pandemic. Learn to listen to the voice in your head so you can be aware of when thoughts turn negative, identify them, and constructively stop the worry and instead lean into planning and celebrating small victories. 

Examine Outlets, Ensure they are Healthy 

We all need ways to blow off steam when stressed. In the weeks post pandemic, Nielsen reported a boom in online alcohol sales and television consumption, both traditional and streaming. It’s like we were all trying to cope with the “new normal” through distraction.  

For some, this was short-lived and we’ve found ways to adapt. For others, bad habits that started at the beginning of the pandemic have taken hold. Now is the perfect time to take stock of where you are, identify positive ways to combat stress, and take action. Exercise, mental health apps, counseling, socially distanced time with friends, and discovering other hobbies are important in these times. 

Create a flexible schedule for you and your children

One recent article about how medical transcriptionists balance working from home with kids included some general tips that apply to us all: 

  • Creating a flexible schedule might be more complicated than you think. When it comes to your kids’ school schedule, be sure to build yours around theirs. Try to block periodic kid check-ins in your work calendar so you’re not trying to do two things at once (as much as possible).
  • Remember you’re not alone in trying to balance kids and work. If something comes up, it’s ok to reschedule or ask for more flexibility knowing your co-workers are dealing with similar issues.
  • Set boundaries through visual reminders, designated work hours and, ‘do not disturb’ zones throughout your home.
  • Support your child’s self-sufficiency by setting up secondary tasks when they’ve finished their workload or even when they need help but you need to focus until your next scheduled check in. It will promote their personal development and provide you with time to complete your own tasks 

By setting clear expectations for yourself, your work, and your children as part of your approach to back-to-school this fall, you set yourself up for success. Ensuring you have plenty of plan Bs and healthy outlets for stress (for you and your kids) also means that you will be prepared when the unexpected arrives. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to plan for the unexpected. By doing so, you can feel more prepared as a parent and more confident at work.