Struggling Working From Home AND Parenting AND Teaching?

Here are some tips on how to make lockdown for parents more enjoyable


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March 27, 2020 Angela Barnett

Are you a parent suddenly finding yourself being a homeschool teacher AND holding down a job (not to mention reducing anxiety in your whānau and disinfecting the house)? You’re not alone. Heck, we have been angling for better Flexible Working policies for a while but never expected they would be forced upon us. We thought it would be something we would choose and plan for. Now, we’re all in the same boat—or four walls—with the COVID-19 pandemic, figuring this Working From Home (WFH) thing out together, but separately. We’ve pulled together some tips that we hope are helpful for parents trying not to pull their hair out, drink all the wine supply, and hide under the stairs until it’s over. 

Cut the teachers some slack and that includes yourself

Dr Brené Brown has some sound advice in her new podcast, ‘Unlocking Us’ which dropped this week about home-school learning. First, don’t expect any child to concentrate for long periods learning via a screen even though they may normally love screens! Go easy on them and give them breaks. She also says—after doing her own remote teaching at university for two decades—to not expect the teachers, who are doing their very best, to get it right all of the time so go easy on them too. They are on the front line of what she calls FFT (Effing First Time) so most of them are learning too. And finally, a reminder that it’s OK for kids to be bored. If you don’t have time for the podcast you can read about it on her blog post here.

But don’t cut some slack when it comes to apps and games

Most of us use screens for work and play and that goes for children too but how can you tell if your child’s app or show is educational? Developers and producers may throw ‘educational’ into a marketing line but that doesn’t mean it is. Here are three questions the Huffington Post suggests asking of an app or show: does it build skills, does it give kids agency and choice rather than tell them facts and what to do, and are the creators trustworthy. It’s easy to check out creators of apps and shows online, and lean on Common Sense Media, who rate thousands of games, shows and apps.

Never has there been a better time to share that unpaid workload

When it comes to shared childcare WFH, then routines are also vital, and it’s the ideal time to address gender equality in the home because everyone’s right there in it. Some families and couples are dividing childcare up into mornings and afternoons, naps and not naps or one-hour slots (see the tip below on using the Pomodoro technique). All the advice says routines help children feel safe, reduce anxiety and help the adults when they have to swap focus too. Talk it through, make a plan, share the load and cut yourself some slack. Nobody is going to be the perfect parent and co-worker right now.

Don’t forget, mental health is just as important as washing hands to stay safe.

  • Clearhead is an app to help with wellbeing and they have put together an option for anxiety for COVID-19 too.
  • The Mental Health site is also a good place for tips.
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