The parents, a popular Medium post recently declared, are not all right. Trying to juggle the demands of small kids with their own need to stay sane and productive during this crisis has left most struggling. And for entrepreneur parents worried about keeping their businesses afloat, the pressure is even more intense.
You need to focus on your work, but you also need to support your children. How do you manage this trick? Psychologist after psychologist recommends structure. But let me guess your trouble with this (my five year old is dancing to Disney songs as I write): your kids aren't as keen as keeping to a routine as you are.
How can you get your kids motivated to not only do some schoolwork and chores, but just simply brush their teeth before noon? A helpful post on The Conversation from Clark University psychologist Wendy Grolnick, who has studied how families cope with severe disruption after disasters, offers a five-step plan:
Involve your children in setting the schedule. No one, adult or child, likes to feel they have no control over their time. So discuss the schedule with your kids and make sure you incorporate at least some of their suggestions. "When children participate in creating guidelines and schedules, they are more likely to believe the guidelines are important, accept them and follow them," Grolnick notes.
Allow as much choice as possible. "Parents can present some chores around the house, and children can choose which they prefer. They can also pick when or how they complete them," Grolnick writes. "Parents can also give children choice about what fun activity they would like to do at the end of the day or for a study break."
Be empathetic. This is hard on kids. Really listening to their feelings isn't just the loving thing to do, it will also make things run more smoothly at home. "Children will be more open to hearing about what they need to do if they feel that their own perspectives are understood," Grolinick says. She advises parents to acknowledge how difficult and lonely this period is for their kids.
Explain your rules. No one likes to obey rules they don't understand. A pandemic doesn't change that. Explain your reasoning.
Problem solve together. Problems will arise no matter how thoughtful and inclusive you are. When they do, solicit your child's input on how to resolve the issue.
Is this all good advice? Of course, but Grolnick admits it requires time and patience that are often in short supply at the moment.
"That's why it's important for parents to find time for their own self-care and rejuvenation - whether it be by taking a walk, exercising, meditating or writing in a journal," she adds. Once you get your own head right, you'll be in a better place to smooth out the schedule at home, which can will help keep everyone sane (and maybe even productive).