Parenting has never been considered easy, but lately it’s become exponentially harder. Combine a pandemic, childcare disruptions, anxious kids home from school and your job—or stress about that job going away—and parenting becomes a case study in stress management, patience, organization and crisis communications.
That’s why Dr. Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi (pictured at left) hosted a webinar, “Parenting in the Times of Coronavirus”. Dr. Chaturvedi is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Bhopal chapter. She is also an educator, a parenting coach and the founder of India’s fastest-growing preschool organization.
In her presentation to EO members, Dr. Chaturvedi shared actionable tips entrepreneurial parents can follow to reduce anxiety in their home, help their kids thrive in a crisis and still get their work accomplished.
5 Steps to Managing Kids and Work
1. Reduce Anxiety
Children often mirror your mood, so reducing anxiety starts with you.
Parents should “model the calmness” they want in their home, according to Dr. Chaturvedi, and filter age-appropriate information to their children. That means significantly limiting media exposure.
Talk about what your family is doing to stay healthy and safe. Actively listen to their fears, questions and curiosities.
Answer honestly, but simply.
While it’s important for children to feel safe, be careful not to make false promises or over-assure your kids. Promising that everything will return to normal quickly or that your family is immune to any harm creates potentially false expectations.
2. Don’t Solve Boredom for Your Kids
After you’ve heard the phrase “I’m bored” for the fifteenth time in a single morning, you might be tempted to play problem solver and help your kids find entertainment.
However, Dr. Chaturvedi cautions against this. This is the perfect opportunity for your kids to figure out what to do, use their imagination and let curiosity lead to an activity.
By jumping in to entertain children, it removes an opportunity for them to learn, play and grow—and keeps you from getting tasks accomplished.
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3. Create Structure and Routines
Of course, kids will need some help planning and spending their time. Children thrive in a routine and, during tense times, schedules become even more important.
Dr. Chaturvedi recommends children have a say in their activities and the timing of each activity. This gives children a sense of control and allows them to buy in to each day’s plans.
To keep things interesting, implement a “blended approach” to your days, mixing physical activity, academics, social time and play. Make sure to keep bedtime consistent and allow for plenty of rest.
Parents may be tempted to replace a full eight hour school day with eight hours of studying at home. Remember, though, that much of a traditional school day is spent on breaks, lunch, changing classes and playtime.
In reality, parents should plan for only up to three hours of academic work, depending on your child’s age and specific needs.
4. Set Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Activities
As we work and study from home, it’s easy to have Monday melt into Friday. To help each day have a purpose, decide with your children which activities must be done every day and which can be considered optional.
Non-negotiable activities might include 20 minutes of household chores, one hour of reading or other activities that have to be done. Negotiable activities may be teaching a sibling a new skill or practicing their instrument.
One non-negotiable activity you may not think of? Social time. Your children are used to being around kids their own age, so set aside time for your kids to video chat with friends and feed their social needs. Look for socially responsible ways that your children can interact with other kids. Online classes or family friendly virtual games may be an option to look into.
At the end of each day, check in with your kids to see how they’re doing. Allow them space to share feedback, concerns and wishes.
5. Get Your To-Do List Done
Going from full-time entrepreneur to a hybrid role of parent, teacher and entrepreneur isn’t easy on anyone, but the right plan can make it manageable.
If your kids are late risers, use the quiet early morning hours to be productive, tackling the hardest tasks of the day first. Sync similar activities with your children, like working out or reading together. For those times you need complete focus or you have an important call, schedule online classes or other all-consuming activities for your kids.
Importantly, this is the time to coordinate with other in-house family members for help, whether it’s your partner or older children.
While coronavirus may be outside any parent’s control, families can do a great deal in planning and helping their kids make the best of this unprecendented time. Your family may even look back on this time fondly, considering all the extra time together.
Together, families can work through this time, coming out the other side closer and more connected.