Working from home and parenting throughout COVID-19

By Christina Le Breton

Parenting is challenging under normal circumstances. It gets significantly more challenging when you must continuously hurdle other barriers such as being a single parent, a parent with a spouse who works away, having health issues, or being a parent during Covid-19.  

Regardless if you are a two-parent or single-parent-based family – we all have been feeling the struggle this past year.

As a mom of four children (from four to 18), I have some tips that might help you survive working from home with your kids.

First and foremost

Be kind to yourself! Seriously. You deserve it, you fabulous creature of Earth, you.

As parents, it is so easy to beat ourselves up when we have a rough day. We have never faced something such as the Covid-19 pandemic in our entire generation. We are maneuvering through something completely abnormal and nothing that anyone could have ever predicted. Some days, we struggle more than others, and that is OK. You are doing a fantastic job; you got this!

It is SO easy to find ourselves not taking proper care of our whole selves during this pandemic. The realism of the lockdowns, restrictions, and other things affecting our lives for the past year is still so far from over. It is easy to get lost in our minds and for our mental health to be less than subpar, especially with all the extra stress we as parents have had to take on.

When you get up in the morning, shower and put on clothes that make you feel good, look in that mirror and repeat after me, “you are loved, you are worthy, and you are awesome.” Do some stretches and eat something yummy and good for your belly. Try to have a bit of time to yourself to enjoy that coffee or tea alone before you have to get the kids up. Personally, that morning coffee and watching funny dog videos sets the mood for the rest of my day. I love that 20 minutes before the rest of the house wakes up.

Take a break.

Take time for yourself. We, as parents, give and give until we have nothing left some days. The boss needs the report by three, and just before your deadline your child is having difficulties with their Chromebook. The stress is real. Then, after work, you switch off your computer and it is time to cook, clean, help with homework and get the kids to bed. It never ends.

Sometimes, we need to schedule time for ourselves. We need to treat that self-care time like a job or an appointment. As busy parents, we are so good at making excuses for taking proper care of ourselves. We feel guilty when it comes to putting ourselves first, but trust me, sometimes, it is essential to do exactly that. How can you do this, you ask?

Start with dedicating 20 minutes a day to doing something just for you – the laundry can wait until you are done. This could be taking a warm bath, exercising, meditating, painting your nails, or even Facetiming a friend. Just make sure you are doing something for you, once a day, no matter how small it may seem. I will also tell you a little secret. It is OK to put the kids to bed 15 minutes earlier or to let them watch their favourite show on TV so you can get those 20 minutes to yourself. It is TOTALLY OK; you are a great parent still!

Move around

Do not forget to be active throughout the day. Stand up, take a walk around your house, look away from the monitor. On your lunch break, pack up those kids and walk the dog. Get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. We all need to separate ourselves from our work which is more challenging when working from home.  

Make your space child friendly

In many instances, parents working from home during this pandemic have a young child or two who still needs supervision. Regardless of the size of your workspace, here are some ways to entertain your child while you work.

  • Bring a couple of toys into your workspace area for your child to play. Rotate the toys often, so your child stays entertained.
  • A lap desk is handy for children to colour beside you.
  • Have snacks prepped and ready to go when your child is hungry, but it is not quite lunchtime.
  • Make great use of naps or quiet time!  Save the more detailed work for these times.
  • If your child is school-aged and online learning, keep their workspace close to yours (but give them a headset for their lessons – those kiddos can sure get loud on zoom). This way, you can ensure they are not getting distracted while also getting your work done.
  • Enjoy your time with your children, take mini breaks to play or snuggle or laugh. Remember, your family is the most important thing in the world.
  • For the older kids, set some boundaries. For example, “I am going to work until this timer goes off while you do your math. Then we can play (or make snacks, or go for a walk, whatever)!” Use a timer that your child can see counting down, and then make it fun for them when the timer goes off! It will help your child to feel still connected and still allow you to get some work done.

Whatever your situation is surrounding working from home with your children, I hope that you found these small suggestions to be helpful and empowering for you!  Remember, you got this. You are amazing. Your children will remember and cherish this time home with you their entire lives.

Be safe, be healthy, have fun <3