The government recently announced the implementation of heightened measures in light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Once again, parents need to manage both work-from-home and their children’s home-based learning arrangements. Having to care for their children 24/7 while juggling work commitments from home leaves many parents little to no respite. It is during times like these that parent-child relationships are tested.
During the Circuit Breaker last year, TOUCH Parenting conducted a survey to understand the concerns and needs of parents who find themselves in such a situation. These are some key concerns highlighted by parents:
- How to give enough attention to our children while working at the same time
- Use of digital devices to keep children occupied to manage work at home
- Managing timetable of home-based learning with children
- Ability to supervise children during home-based learning while managing work
Here are some simple and effective strategies to help mitigate such challenges and hopefully make the current situation more manageable for both parents and their children.
Strategy 1: Timetable for the whole family
Come up with a workable timetable for the family, especially when it comes to accessing limited technology resources such as laptops, video conferencing equipment, or even space to do work. Plan for play, work and rest periods for each member of the family. Rest periods will allow for much needed alone time to recover and recalibrate, mentally and emotionally. It can range from 20-30 minutes depending on each individual and what works for the family. Parents who are both working can consider taking turns to attend to work matters (whenever possible) while managing child’s home-based learning. However, the timetable is just a guide. Parents, don’t let it dictate every moment of the day. Even if you can’t keep to it, relax and enjoy some impromptu moments. Surprises can be refreshing too!
Strategy 2: Zoning
This is particularly difficult for families who stay in smaller sized flats or apartments. Sometimes, it will be helpful to just have an indicator or a sign that says, “Dad/Mom is working now, be with you in XX minutes”. If you have a designated room for work or study, manage expectations by telling your child that a closed door would mean no disturbance. Set time limits for closed-door sessions to about 45 minutes. Take another 30 minutes to attend to your child’s needs before the next closed-door session. Zoning can include a space to cool off, calm down or have a timeout during a conflict.
Strategy 3: Play as a family and on your own
Set aside time in a day or every two days to have family fun time. Board games, computer games and role-playing can break the monotony and introduce some fun and laughter. It is also a good break from screen time for both parents and children. However, parents can also help support their children to play on their own by providing relevant resources for them to be occupied. This goes beyond the home-based learning assignments that your child is already on. Some digital resources available can be found here:
Strategy 4: Expect conflict, fights, lots of hugs and “I’m sorry”
Being in close proximity for extended periods of time will definitely bring about more conflicts than usual. Parents, you may lose your temper, shout and reprimand your children at some point. Do not beat yourself up over it. We are all human. Expect your children to be restless, argue and fight more often than usual. When situations like these take place, get the affected members of the family to go to their respective safe zones to calm down. Speak to them when all affected members are ready to talk. Encourage one another to apologise, hug and get on with the activity of the day.
Strategy 5: Self-care is crucial
Do take time to relax, recalibrate your emotions and mental health. Take time to go for a quick jog or walk (mind the social distance). Parents, take turns to have “me-time” and set aside the almost impossible couple time to talk, and reflect on the day’s happenings.
We hope these strategies will give you a good starting point on managing the situation at home better. Parents, as much as you try your very best to fulfil your responsibilities to your work and family, try not to stress over every bit of detail and attention. Instead, focus on capturing the “now” moments. Catch that cheeky smile that your child gives when he tries to sneak up on daddy or mouth or whisper an “I love you” every now and then. Praise and affirm your children for doing their part at home, big or small.
Times are challenging but you are not without support. If you need help or someone to talk to about your parenting challenges, contact TOUCH Parenting at [email protected] today!
TOUCH Parenting aims to strengthen parent-child relationships by providing parents with relevant parenting resources through every stage of their parenting journey. It conducts informative talks and workshops which empower parents with knowledge on preparing for and raising a new-born, navigating the digital age with their child, parent-child communication, and nurturing resilient children and youths. It is also appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as the Parent Support Provider (PSP) for Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore.