Looking after Ourselves and our Families during Challenging Times
As parents all over the country continue to make working from home a reality, Aoife Lee from Parent Support reminds us that it is important to acknowledge how much has been achieved. By no means has it been easy - balancing being the parent, employee and teacher. Some days and weeks may have felt longer than others; some may have been more challenging, emotional and stressful. Aoife talks to us about how we can maintain our resilience and strength for the coming weeks and months ahead.
1. Changing our mindset
We can’t be everything to everybody all the time – right now we are being consumed by the role of teacher, parent and employee, while we can be strategic in our time management, it’s also important that we continue and allow ourselves be flexible in our work commitments along with our personal life.
2. Managing our expectations
It’s important that we adjust our expectations to the reality of where we are at right now, matching our goals to our circumstances can be key for many families in maintaining some form of calm and a reasonable level of productivity. Knowing and acknowledging that they are changing day by day and week by week.
Be realistic to what we can and can’t do, when the kids are distracted and active versus when they need us most and are looking for our attention. Know that how we cover school work with our children is completely different to if they were in school and that this is absolutely ok. Know that right now is not forever and while it might feel like it’s not getting easier - the challenges will shift depending on our deadlines, our children’s needs and their form on a given day.
3. Communicate about your daily schedule
Communication plays a very big part of family and working relationships regardless of where we are at right now, however its’ significance and planning ahead is crucial when one or both parents are working. It can be simply going through our daily schedules, marking time in for calls, meetings, self-care – whether that be down time or getting out for some fresh air. Have a clear plan with who is responsible for what during the day regarding work and caring for the children. Practicing this communication will continue to make daily life at home that little bit easier.
4. Set boundaries, recognise what's a priority & what’s not
Recognise and acknowledge when you have your work hat on versus being present as mum or dad. Every working day will vary depending on what needs to be achieved. Identify your boundaries between work and family life by scheduling your hours that are most productive. This will be different for every family, as circumstance, expectations and situations vary so much.
5. Combating feelings of guilt
Being a working parent brings a lot of juggling along with sometimes feelings of guilt, which can affect each and every one of us in some form, but what can help ease it?
Write a list of everything that is concerning you right now about being a working parent.
Accept what you can’t change – The children are now at home when usually at school, crèche and afterschool – we can’t change that however take a look at what we can do.
Take ownership – Start to look at what you can take control of, what you can influence.
Go through your list and ask yourself - can I influence this or not, if I can – how can I?
I can’t control that we are in this situation where we are all at home working and no school but what I can control is managing my own expectations, boundaries, how I communicate, the time I spend with the kids, managing my time as productively as possible.
How we can reduce those feelings of guilt if you have them:
• Identify the triggers, try and tune in to when guilt starts to spill over – make a decision about what you find works to alleviate, talk to your partner, friend, meditate, make a list.
• Focus on what is working for you and your family – focus on the positives
• Be honest with yourself and ask – what has helped me before, what is not a priority.
• Be gentle on yourself, we are doing the best we can, allow yourself to feel but don’t allow it take over – the situation we are in right now is not normal – we have got through 8 weeks up until this point – we will get through this.
6. Make 1:1 and family time
While we might be thinking – how much more time can I really spend with the children? This is time outside of work, creating dedicated and guaranteed family time. Our children love being around us so often looking at doing something together as a family can be a big deal.
One activity which has proven to be really popular during all of this is creating a time capsule – taking aspects of what has been most meaningful to us, symbols of covid-19- Photos, memories, paper clippings, toilet rolls and hand sanitiser! There are also some great fun work sheets for the children to complete and include too – contact Aoife using the details below if you would like a copy.
7. Be good to yourself
This time will be one to remember, while it has certainly hit us all like a steam train and challenged us in such ways we never thought we would manage or get through – we are doing so with resilience and strength.
Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel the tough times. Ask for help if you need it, seek support, and keep communication open at home with your partner, the children and your work team.
Allow yourself time out in whatever way helps you.
Recent Award Winner in Family Friendly Ireland Awards for ‘Best in Education’
Aoife Lee – Parent Coach – Parent Support
LinkedIn – Aoife Lee
Website – www.parentsupport.ie