Hello Addison County families,
We are in week 3 of the official school closure and order from our Governor to work from home (if you are considered a non-essential employee). Needless to say there is a LOT going on in our little corner of the world. Like any parent, I spend some of my time scrolling through the lives of my friends on social media and while sifting through the local take-out menus, quarantine karaoke (brilliant), and canceled vacations (mine included), I can’t help but ignore the subtle cries for help from parents.
“It’s too much.”
“I don’t know how to balance my work and their work.”
“How is everyone else doing this?!”
“I can’t seem to find the time for all three of my kids, help!”
Sound familiar? Trust me, I know. I am feeling the same exact way. While scrolling through your own social media pages, many of you have likely seen the memes that include a photo of someone sitting on the couch, watching television, with a caption that reads “Just stay home, it’s that easy.” While I agree with the importance of staying home (my family and I have been hunkered down since before the official order), the message that this is “easy” is confusing and conflicting. This is not easy. And certainly not for parents and children. Though we are in our homes, and things look the same, the things that are happening around us are very, very different. Our homes have been converted to offices and classrooms, though the schools and teaching staff are doing their very best to support our children remotely, parents have been unofficially called to fill in as the substitute teacher. This is a challenge for many parents who do not traditionally teach, and certainly we are aware that most teachers do not formally teach their own children while also performing the full time tasks of their 40+ hour a week job. Let me reassure you again, this is NOT easy.
Okay, so that was the validation part. Here is the part where I begin to discuss some possible solutions to ease the stress that we are all feeling from this pandemic. Just like any of the adjustments you have experienced over the last three weeks, these solutions are going to take some time and some effort, but once in place, you will start to feel the evil villain known as stress loosening its grip on you and your family.
Step 1 - Get organized. If you have not done this already, start to adjust your calendars, your spaces, and your time based on the new “normal”.
Step 2 - Host family meetings. Just like you’re back at the office, it is important to touch base with the members of your family. This time gives everyone an opportunity to share what’s on their mind and agenda for the week. Make it even easier and have these meetings (discussions) during family dinner.
Step 3 - Make / Update calendars. A shared calendar with your family can help organize every body’s schedules and work loads for the week. It is an easy way to communicate availability while also blocking out times of the day when you are not available.
Step 4 - Meal plan & grocery lists. This step is more important than ever as we have decreased our visits to the store, making the trips we do take even more essential. So know what you need before you go, and plan the meals you’re going to make.
Step 5 - Make time for friends. This goes for you and your kids. Most parents have been finding ways for their kids to stay connected to their classmates while forgetting that it is just as important for us to stay connected to our friends and coworkers. Texting doesn’t necessarily count, make a phone call or video chat for a more meaningful, fulfilling experience.
Step 6 - Delegate tasks. The laundry has increased, the dishes have increased, the traffic through your house has increased, therefore all hands on deck. Have all members of the family be responsible for household chores.
Step 7 - Create shortcuts. This step helps maintain all of your hard work and time you have put into getting you and your family organized. Ensuring everything has a place, this is important for those new things that need places (homework, laptops, binders, pencils, etc.). Another example: at the end of the day assign a room to each member of your family, that person is in charge of putting the room back in order (books are returned to shelves, clothes are picked up and put away, toys are in the toy box, dishes are put away, etc.)
Step 8 - Be real. Echoing my reassuring message above, this is not easy. So stop thinking you have to do it all, every day, all day without flaw. Breathe. You are a great parent because you care and you try.
Jesse Brooks, Director of Prevention