6 Tips For Parents HomeSchooling Kids

As we approach the start of the next school year, and with uncertainly over whether schools will open, the challenges many parents have experienced over recent months may be set to continue. In preparation, here are my 6 tips for parents dealing with home schooling kids. It's a guide towards better stress management while parenting and working from home.
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The homeschooling new normal

In the months following the Covid-19 stay at home orders, we all hoped the changes would be temporary but as we move toward the beginning of the next school year, the end remains unclear. Working from home with homeschooling for now is now the new normal.

For some this may be welcomed and even preferred but for many, especially parents with children, this may be their worst-case scenario, especially if they have little to no help. With children not leaving the house; parents have to oversee home-schooling, as they shoulder full-time jobs, making it extra difficult to focus on work and children at the same time.

With this post I built on this previous post and focus on the challenges working parents face during these times and provide six simple tips for parents homeschooling kids and help overcome the challenges of doing so.
Let’s start with the challenges.

Not the great equalizer

Recent studies and surveys around the pandemic have shed light on some factors that are worth highlighting.
  • In the U.S. individuals with children are experiencing a lot more stress than individuals without children.
  • Women in general have been impacted more than men. Women need to work more now than in the past due to their line of work (women make up about 85% of all nurses, 75% of primary caregiver) and/or as around 62% of women hold minimum wage jobs (mainly in the service industry).
  • Women are experiencing more job losses than men according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
While women are experiencing increased stress, working hours and job losses, the story does not end there. According to new studies, women are also shouldering a lot more at home including caregiving of children and elderly, taking care of household needs (i.e. cleaning, cooking, etc.); usually on top of their demanding full-time jobs.
Many companies, facing the transition to a home working model, have not yet adjusted their levels of understanding of the gender inequality that is occurring and remain oblivious to the hardship many female employees face when working from home. Recently, Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook, through her Lean In organization expressed concerns about the lack of movement towards gender equality at work and the need for adjustment to account for the lifestyle pressures women face while working from home.
As our brains shift towards survival mode, it is not unusual to experience extra stress, worry, fatigue, low mood, irritability, impulsivity and lack of patience at times. Our uncertainty and lack of control during these times, can make us feel out of place, more anxious, and hopeless about the future. It is easy to drop our routines, lose sight of ourselves as we focus on others, overwork or underwork, and lose motivation in a continued cycle of negative thoughts.
That’s is ok! This is your brain and body is telling you something is out of the norm and has activated your nervous system for a “fight or flight.” However, we are not fighting or fleeing and cannot fight nor flee these current times.

Embrace the uncertainty

The good news is there is one thing we can do: apply some tools to help adjust, cope, and tolerate it better once we accept the current circumstances as is. Here are some simple steps to help you cope, adjust, and tolerate the current times. Keep in mind, that although it may sound simple, practicing these tips may be difficult and might take time to sink in specially during such unprecedented times.
1. Set a daily routine/schedule
This tip applies for all, parents or non-parents. During these times, we are already facing a lot of new changes, some wanted some unwanted, and among those is losing our old routines and schedules. In the past, our commute time determined our time to wake, we had set times to eat or take a break, to go home, and to sleep. Now, due to having to handle not only your schedule but the children’s schedule, most of the time without help can make things extremely difficult and out of place.

Start by acknowledging it’s not easy to set a schedule and routine and follow through exactly. However, it is essential to hold yourself up to a certain routine and/or schedule.

For example, set a time to wake up to give you alone time in the morning, for your cup of coffee or to check your emails before everyone else wakes up. When the kids wake up, you and the kids all change out of our PJs, and can get into the comfy outfits, making sure you are out of your sleepwear to shift to the day routine.

Setting routine or schedule does not have to be perfect, it is there to serve a purpose of freeing you of stress and to give a sense of normalcy both for you and the kids. If the children are older, having that schedule for them on the fridge or somewhere visible allows them to also follow routine and instruction a lot better. For the little ones, try to implement it for yourself and your sanity.

Add your meetings and calls to the schedule and come up with creative ways to manage children and yourself. For example, for smaller children, discuss with your partner and see if you can play handoff (during your calls, meetings the partner takes them and during his/hers you take them). If a partner is not available, schedule an activity during that time for the kids. If kids are in school, schedule those meetings during the time they are “attending class” without your help. Remember, making sure things are on the schedule, allows kids to get a sense of organization, and gives you, control.
2. Capitalize nap time (quite time in the crib)
Nap times are golden. They allow you to either schedule some meetings or calls or if you need to pay attention to yourself, to take a break or a nap. For those children who are not napping, you can set up a “quite time” in which they hang out in their crib or in their room quietly. This is a good time for them to learn the skills of being with themselves, even bored, is ok. It is important though to reinforce them for handling “quite time” well.
3. Make it fun (for yourself and them)

It’s completely understandable that children may not understand very well the extent of importance of certain calls and meetings. Making it fun for them and yourself, allows them to be a part of it and yet respect the boundary setting. Finding creative fun ways to display that you are busy is important.

During those times when you cannot be disturbed you can create signals – Wear a tiara or hold a sword when you need to establish some boundary around you being busy and encouraging kids to be with themselves. That shows them you cannot be disturbed. This will make it less foreign for them and friendlier and more fun. Holding a sword shows that you are in a “work battle” and need them to soldier up and protect you by staying quiet.

parenting challenges and the parental new normal
4. Radical acceptance

Children may not understand very well the extent of importance of certain calls and meetings and that is completely understandable. Making it fun for them and yourself, allows them to be a part of it and yet respect the boundary setting. Finding creative fun ways to display that you are busy is important.

For those times that you cannot be disturbed you can create signals – Wear a tiara or hold a sword when you need to establish some boundary around you being busy and encouraging kids to be with themselves. That shows them you cannot be disturbed. This will make it less foreign for them and friendlier and more fun. Holding a sword shows that you are in a “work battle” and need them to soldier up and protect you by staying quiet.

5. This is temporary
Remember you are the mother or father and temporarily helping with homework and school work. It may take time but they will go back to school and the teacher will play their part again. Right now, the kids still need you to be the mom and you need to unload any other identities you are claiming at this point – because guess what: you can’t be all.
6. Forgiveness before permission
Allow yourself to make mistakes and let loose, this is the time to “let go” and practice flexibility. It is already so hard because we are experiencing such lack of control about our lives, future, world and more. Nothing is certain in this world as this pandemic has reminded us. So why not utilize this time to learn and model for our kids that it is ok if things do not go as planned and guess what, we can make a change and that’s ok too!
I hope you find these tips for homeschooling kids helpful.

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