How to Keep Your Cool When Juggling Multiple Roles
In my time at The Westview School, I have occupied the roles of Middle School Teacher, Behavior Specialist, and Psychologist. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes to our work and school schedules, I now occupy all of these roles at one time in my home with four other people. Managing the role of working parent is always a challenge, but these times have made it more challenging. Even my colleagues who are used to working at home are not used to working at home with their children!
To help manage my work and home life with these blurred boundaries, I have found the following helpful:
Have a routine. Just like during the days when we worked in the office, have set times of the day that are for work, for family, and for you. Working from home can blur the boundary between family and work, so it is important to add structure to the day. Avoid working after the hours or times of day you set. Avoid asking your child to do academic ‘table-work’ outside of the hours that have been set for school.
Be flexible. If your children need you in the morning for school work, your work schedule may need to be later in the day. On the other hand, if your work needs you in the morning, your children may need to do school in the afternoon. We are used to school and work occurring simultaneously, but that may need to change. As we tell our children: Change is okay! We can be flexible!
Enlist help. We aren’t able to send our kids to our family or friends’ homes or bring a babysitter over; however, we can be creative! Is there a grandparent who can play or teach over video-chat on a consistent basis? Get with other parents and use academic sites with a social component, popular gaming sites, or gaming consoles to time up your child’s time with their peers’ time. When you need quiet time do not be afraid to put on a kid-friendly movie.
Set up the environment for success. An environment free of distractions, with all needed resources, and with adequate comfort is essential for employees and for students! For more information, see the blog post by Mimi Le, LMFT/LPC.
Have fun! Remember to play while you work and work while you play. Children and families will remember this COVID-19 pandemic for a long time to come. Create meaningful memories by being flexible and fun within your boundaries. Sometimes that may mean deviating from the plan or relaxing expectations for the sake of the relationship. This is okay!
Remember self-care. We all need some time to recharge and be ready for the next day. During this time when we are fulfilling multiple full-time roles (parent, educator, and/or employee), we must practice self-care to make it through the weeks until our Work Safe-Stay Home order is lifted. Self-care may take many forms, including a bit of alone time, exercise, baking, reading, bathing, or any number of other activities that relaxes and ‘recharges’ you. Self-care will help you be kind to those around you, but also to yourself. In close quarters, this is necessary for everyone!
Remember that your best is good enough! You may not be the 60-hour per week employee that you once were. You may not get all of the laundry finished before bedtime. Your child may not get all of his or her worksheets completed. This is okay. Prioritize, prioritize, and relax when it isn’t all completed. Your best parenting, mentoring, tutoring, cleaning, and working is good enough.
We’re all in this together, even the medical doctors and mental health professionals who are supposed to have all the answers in times of medical and emotional emergencies! However, in this unprecedented time, we are all truly figuring it out together. Be kind to yourself, your children, your coworkers, and others- and it will all be okay.
Natalie Montfort, PhD
Clinical Psychologist/Director of The Stewart Center