This past spring life changed for everyone – we were told to stay home 24/7 and work while teaching our kids. It was an exhausting and trying time for all of us… attempting to learn new tasks on the spot with no guidance or assistance. Being an eternal optimist, I did my best to find the positives that came along with these changes; no long commute, spending more time with my kids and husband, wearing yoga pants every day. After the initial shock, I am getting used to working from home and I am ok with not going back to the office for a while. My family is spending a lot of quality time together and we are experiencing unique memories. Our neighbors have become part of our support system and our families have grown very close as we spend most evenings outside playing and socializing.
With the return of our children to school imminent (whether virtual or in-person), the anxiety is creeping in. I am trying not to get overwhelmed with the thoughts of being inside all day, dealing with virtual learning again, and the looming shortened days of winter… but it is SO hard. I started to think about how I can make this next chapter of life easier. I realized it comes down to 4 things: Communication, Communication, Communication AND Communication.
Communication with your partner: You and your partner need to be on the same page, or at least the same chapter of your book. My husband and I sit down every day (either over coffee or wine) to talk about what our schedule is for the day. It is important to be specific of the expectations of your day, so if your kid is melting down in the middle of a meeting you can decide who is going to be able to handle the situation. I prefer to write down our schedules, but sometimes we don’t always remember to look at our calendar so verbally communicating your plan TOGETHER makes a huge difference.
- Talk to each other about At-Home learning expectations and teaching styles
- Remember that they can’t read your mind, if you need help with something ask (ie. I would like to work out at 6am, can you get up with the kids).
- Let your partner know if you have an important meeting or project so that you can focus and they can handle the kids during that time.
- Share your work calendar (google calendar is our favorite)
Communication with your kids: Trying to get your kids to listen while you teach can be exhausting. But this past spring I took the time to write down the daily school schedule every morning with my 6-year-old son. So he knew exactly what he had to do and together we would create his schedule. This truly helped him feel less frustrated and gave him the control and the structure he is used to. By laying out the day and communicating what needs to get done (including the fun stuff) they will be more likely to stay on track.
- Communicate goals and rewards to them, if they do XYZ then they get to go for a bike ride or play video games, etc.
- Find 15-30 min of uninterrupted time together. Tell them that during this time there will be no phone calls, emails, or devices. No distractions will make a huge difference in building relationships with your kids
- Try not to yell. When stressed it can be difficult to keep your cool, but remember that your kids are stressed, too; if you need it, take a break!
Communication with your manager and coworkers: We all know that almost everyone is doing multiple jobs at once; all our situations are different; and we can’t assume our coworkers know what is going on at home. It is of the utmost importance to share your schedule with your coworkers and managers, while at the same time letting them know that they may hear or see little ones in the background during a call, so you may have to turn off video, or the microphone intermittently while putting out small fires, or dealing with them going to “the potty”.
- Block out your schedule with specifics i.e.: Dropping kids off at day care, virtual learning set up for my child etc.
- Have an honest conversation with your manager on what your schedule is going to look like: i.e. mornings will be very hectic, so I will need to have 15 minute breaks between meetings to work with my child; or I can’t start before 8:30am.
Communication with yourself: Let’s be honest, when you are going 100 miles an hour it is hard to find time for yourself. In times like these it is imperative to get an idea of your daily “temperature”. Take some time to find out how you are doing mentally and physically, and giving yourself the grace and attention you need.
- Intentionally find some ME time
- Get moving, take a walk, work out, meditate
- Get some girl time, go on a walk outside with a friend, do a virtual happy hour, join an online community. Get out of your family bubble and have some adult conversations.
Communication is not a THING; it IS EVERYTHING! And remember you are not alone in this.
Amanda was born and raised in Mid-Michigan, then after college she moved to Columbus, OH – where she married her college sweetheart Brian, and had two sons; Parker and Charlie. In 2018 her family moved to Verona, WI. Besides working a full-time job in the fashion industry, she also started an online community called The Candid Mom Society, where she focuses on building connections with moms during every stage of life. Sharing tips on intentional goal setting and ‘calendarization’ so moms can take back their time and sanity.
I know things can be tough so I want to help you out; grab your FREE AT-Home daily learning calendar here.