If you’re feeling the stress of the current shift to remote learning, you’re not alone. This new system has caught parents between their work, taking care of their kids, and then taking care of their kids’ education.
Many parents have a hard time trying to balance it all.
Whether you choose to send your kids back to school, continue remote learning, or homeschool, here are five things you can do to make the days more productive and enjoyable for you and your kids.
#1: Take Care of Your Mindset and Your Body
We’ve all heard the oxygen mask analogy - when there is an emergency on a plane and the oxygen mask drops, you have to put your mask on first before helping others. Only then can you help others.
Why is this important? Because your actions and emotions will impact your kids. The only way you can help them is if you're mentally and physically strong. This is something we often forget as parents. The result? Burnout.
It can be hard to feel positive and upbeat during a time like this, but self-care is critical during these weird times. Make a point in finding your happy place every day. This could be reading, gardening, mediating… figure out what works for you.
Remember self-care first so you can care for your family.
What about the kids? They can sense our frustrations and negative energy. They can also sense positive energy. Your choice of words can affect how your whole family feels. It’s easy to forget our kids are around and talk about what is happening in a negative light.
Being mindful of what you say around your kids is essential. You want to make sure your kids feel safe and secure. There is lots of information – true and false – flying around. Be aware of what your kids absorb. Reassure them this will pass and be mindful of what they are exposed to through the media.
Build rest into your days to take care of your emotional health.
#2: Implement a Schedule
A schedule is invaluable for your whole family. Since schedules aren’t one size fits all, it helps to have separate schedules for:
The child’s schedule outlines things like homework and chores, and what time their breaks will be.
The family schedule lists times reserved for family activities, including meals, outings, and movie nights.
Your personal schedule helps you stay on track with important things. Plus, the kids can see you following a schedule, too, just like them. Model how you have time allocated for work, breaks, and fun.
All schedules should include regular bedtimes and wake up times. On school days, make sure everyone is up and ready to start their day as they would on a typical school day. Staying in pj's all day will not make anyone productive.
Setting achievable expectations will benefit your whole family.
Check out my blog: How to Create a Schedule That Will Boost Your Kids’ Motivation. I walk you through the steps to creating stick-to-it schedules.
#3: Establish a Designated Work Area
Kids struggle to complete schoolwork when they are distracted by other activities going on in the house. To eliminate this problem, you can set up a quiet, comfortable space away from all distractions. Make sure this space is organized, and your kids have all the materials needed to complete their work. Toys, games, etc. are not allowed in this workspace.
Be aware that a regular school day is about 6-7 hours, but if you subtract lunch, recess, and time spent on classroom management, the actual focused learning time is closer to 3 hours.
If you can get even half of this focused time at home, that’s a WIN for you and your kids.
During breaks and free time, encourage them to go to other areas of the house or, even better, outside for some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.
Note: Even if space is limited, you can build a schedule that allows individual use of this area for all family members.
#4: Give Your Kids Responsibilities
All children love helping out, and this practice allows them to contribute and to feel in control. Give them responsibilities around the house that are age-appropriate, reasonable, and achievable. Add these to their schedules. Turn on some music and make it fun.
The bonus is that they learn these valuable life skills in a fun and natural way, and you get some help with daily tasks. Win-win.
The best part is you don’t have to do everything.
#5: Don’t Try to Re-Create School
Focus on project-based and hands-on learning rather than worksheets. Ask your kids what they want to learn and let their interests lead their activities. There are endless hands-on learning activities your kids can do alone, or you can do as a family. Let your kid's interests guide you to projects that will teach your kids valuable skills.
Remember to be flexible, and don’t worry if your kids are not doing everything correctly. It’s ok to have less productive days.
Equally important right now is free time where kids can do what they enjoy doing. The secret is to set achievable expectations for kids that set them up for success, praise, and ice cream.
Stay positive. Be present with your kids. Enjoy creating memories.