Parenting while working at home
Camille Montes-Ramos, MD, HopeHealth pediatrician
Our lives have changed drastically in the past couple of weeks. With the new COVID-19 pandemic, we are now isolating ourselves from school, work and social recreations.
These times are hard for everyone in the family, especially those working from home while simultaneously parenting and teaching children learning at home. It’s a difficult task that can double the work and stress for all.
Parents, you are not alone! Hang in there. We know you are doing a great job.
How can parents maintain order in the house while working and kids are learning? The answer is to maintain a routine.
It is important to stick to a normal daily schedule as much as possible. Wake the kids up at their regular time, dress them (and yourself) as you would for school and prepare them breakfast. Parents should also stick to a normal bedtime routine during the week.
Try setting a daily calendar with activities by the hour. Include time for study/learning, working time for parents, exercise, breaks and lunch/snack time. Implement dinner together as a family to speak about the day and future activities that can be done as a family.
We know it must be very tempting to plan play dates and sleepovers for the children, but this should be avoided and discouraged. It’s also important to keep in mind that this is not the time for the elderly, grandparents, to be taking care of the children. We need to protect them, since they are at increased risk of acquiring the virus.
We also know that, since kids are spending more time at home, screen time will increase. That’s OK as long as it’s used as a positive resource. Healthy media use can include contacting teachers, social connection with friends and family, interactive/learning games, digital books and educational programs or applications. Always supervise media use and try to use it together.
However, media or screen time should not replace physical activity, sleep time or family interaction. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families should create a family media use plan that parents can use to help children balance their online activity. For tips and information on creating a family media use plan visit healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan.
Remember to maintain communications in your family. Try to explain what is going on in the world with facts and the truth. News can be a scary thing to watch, even for the younger ones, but it’s important that they know what is going on. If they watch the news, it is recommended that it be under adult supervision. It’s a normal process if they get anxious and scared. Remind them that the family is together, and you are there to take care of them.
Lastly, remind them to avoid touching their face and always encourage proper hand washing with water and soap. A simple technique such as singing a song while washing your hands can be used, and video guides are available at cdc.gov/handwashing/videos to help show proper techniques. Hands should be washed as many times as possible.
If you have any questions, it’s important to let your pediatrician know about them. You can also visit the American Academy of Pediatrics parenting website at healthychildren.org for more tips.
Parents, you are not alone. Let’s keep the family safe!