As we embark on another week of social distancing, more and more families are forced to juggle working from home and overseeing their children’s schooling, all while maintaining some semblance of normalcy and routine.
Yes, its important to find gratitude in the fact that you are still employed and that your family is safe and healthy. But the truth is that this is an incredible amount of responsibility for parents to take on. Although we managed to survive the initial weeks of this transition, the continuous struggle to perform both personally and professionally may lead to many individuals feeling burnt out and depleted.
This is not simply an opportunity for families to connect (although it is a beautiful silver lining); this is a moment in time where we are fighting to survive both physically and mentally. So although there are no quick fixes to creating harmony while working from home, there are a few ways to gain some level of control in an otherwise chaotic situation.
1. Maintain A Schedule
Research has shown that most people perform best when there is routine and structure implemented throughout their day. In order to establish this within your own home, it is important to take time each evening to make a tentative schedule that outlines necessary tasks for the upcoming day. Create a schedule of your own occupational obligations and those of your children (academic assignments, nap or meal time, etc), making sure to focus on the highest priority tasks.
The intention behind this structure will not be to enforce rigid expectations, but rather to establish an understanding of what the day entails. Not only does this help ease any anxiety, discomfort or uncertainty, but it also works to ensure that everything that needs to get completed, does so by day’s end.
2. Give Yourself A Moment of Solitude At the Beginning and End Of Each Day
Being that there will be almost no alone time throughout the day, it can be helpful to try and wake up slightly earlier than the rest of your family. Take those moments for your own self care – shower, get dressed, stretch or simply breathe in the day – whatever it is that you need to do for yourself in order to feel regulated before you open your bedroom doors to the day ahead.
The same holds true for the evening time as well. Although there may be an intense desire to fall into bed immediately after the children go to sleep, studies suggest that maintaining a bed time routine will help to enhance sleep duration and quality. So take this moment of solitude to practice self care and disconnect from the stress of the day before falling asleep.
3. Ask Your Partner For Help
Chances are that due to current circumstances, both you and your partner are working from home. Although one individual may historically be responsible for the majority of household and childcare needs, we are in uncharted waters. So the dynamic that has worked in the past, may not be sufficient in the here and now.
Take the time to prioritize communication with your partner so that together, you can work to find understanding and compromise. With all hands on deck, the rhythm within the household will become much smoother.
4. Remember Not To Make Comparisons
Many of us fall into the trap of social media – mindlessly scrolling as people post filtered moments of their lives. It is easy to internalize what you see, as you begin comparing yourself to other parents who appear to have seamlessly mastered quarantined life. But regardless of whether or not those posts are true depictions, the reality is that it has nothing to do with you.
Those families are not your family. The way that your home operates is unique – the different needs and personalities of each individual, the specific amount of responsibilities that you are faced with – make your current reality much different than those around you. So trying to compare your experience to the experience of others is not only unhealthy, but unfair as well.
5. Be Easy On Yourself
These are uncertain, stressful times, and the expectations placed on you as a parent are extraordinary. So if by chance your child watches a little more television than you anticipated, didn’t fully complete the assigned work to the best of their ability, or ended up falling asleep a bit later than their typical bedtime, it is okay.
Our entire routine has been upended and life as we have known it, has changed beyond measure. No one is expected to have this all figured out yet. All we can do is focus on the aspects of our lives that we have some ability to regulate, working to ensure the physical and mental health of ourselves and our family members.
This is a learning experience for everyone, and with each new day, we work to gain a greater understanding of how to manage all that is being asked of us. Although some days will inevitably be more difficult than others, there is no one more equipped to run your own household than you. With mindful intention, we can work to establish some semblance of structure, routine and harmony.
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Nikki P. Woods, MSW, LCSW
Nikki Woods is a highly-sought after licensed clinical psychotherapist and founder of the Navesink Wellness Center in Rumson, New Jersey. After earning her Masters Degree at New York University, Nikki dedicated her career to studying the intricacies of the developing female mind. In her practice (both locally and globally), she empowers mothers to better support their daughters’ development, and assists young women in channeling their own voice – one built on self awareness, acceptance and love.
Her intuitive and insightful approach helps clients gain a greater sense of self worth, pursue life goals, improve relationship dysfunction, establish a more defined identity, and celebrate their own unique assets and capabilities. Her work has been featured in top publications such as Forbes and Inc. She works with patients both locally in Rumson, New Jersey as well as globally via her remote psychotherapy offerings.