Not My Circus: How To Support Remote Work Parents
Supporting Remote Working Parents
It appears our conversation will not be changing for quite some time. COVID-19 will forever be in our vocabularies. For working parents it put a full stop on stability as the school year frantically ended forcing major adjustments to accommodate work and our remote families. Just as we settled into that rhythm, summer came to a screeching halt and it’s time to get back to school across the country and every region seems to have a different plan. Parents are now back to the circus, forcing them to flex their juggling skills while putting strain on the ring master, work.
One thing that is universal for all parents working remotely is that balance is the key to success. In speaking with several parents, their collective concern is the impact of this sudden change in structure on their children, and what it means for their emotional and academic well-being. They also expressed concern with their own job stability, stress levels and productivity. For their kids, they are grappling with missing their friends, lost attention from teachers in the classroom, organized sports, yearly milestones like prom, social learning opportunities, widening education gaps and a reason to get out of their pajamas in the morning.
While there are no easy answers to the side effects to this pandemic, here is how to support your child and family while working from home:
- Check in with your child regularly. Ask them how they are doing and what they are struggling with when it comes to staying home or returning to school.
- Filter media exposure, especially for young children. Have discussions about key issues at age appropriate levels.
- Maintain social connections even while social distancing. Children are the most resilient when embedded in a network of social supports: a relative, a caring parent figure, teacher, etc.
- Seize the opportunity and make an effort to eat lunch or dinner together often as a family.
- Get out and get active. You or your child may be struggling with anxiety and stress, which can affect memory, attention, and mood. Movement naturally helps us regulate our mood.
- Let’s face it, school was an escape for all of us. Make sure that everyone has the necessary time to disconnect and have alone time. For stressed parents caring for children and trying to work: Put on your own oxygen mask first. Your self-care is essential. Being intentional with your own needs is vital to you, your children and your work.
How can employers support parents that have to work remotely while still maintaining their work responsibilities?
We all struggle with work life balance, and just like children need frequent communication, flexibility and support, so do remote work parents! During this pandemic it is important that employers show extra care and patience for their very human employees as they try to navigate the right balance for themselves. For front line managers and administrators this may look like:
- Frequent check in’s and providing employees a safe space to offer feedback. This is key for leaders to get a clear understanding of what employees actually need and to demonstrate a culture of empathy and concern.
- Allowing employees to schedule around their children’s school schedule (or offering remote work options and flexible schedules for the entire team).
- Being lenient with children walking across the screen or yelling to mom or dad for help during that 11am critical meeting.
- Acknowledging the tremendous strain of being present for work and your child.
- Implementing mental wellness opportunities and resources onsite or virtually to support the resilience of your remote team. Worker bees with tools to manage stress and overwhelm are more likely to exhibit resilience in the workplace and hit productivity goals.
- That said, modify your expectations.
The latest assumption that was communicated by Dr. Fauci is that we will not have a good handle on this pandemic until the end of 2021, so in other words, we are in this for a while. Now is the time for all of us to show a lot more patience and understanding because this impacts all of us. We all have key roles and responsibilities in the well-being of our greatest assets.
Free Resources for Kids + Adults
Check out the following free resources to support your school and work efforts at home.
Khan Academy: Free resources for parents, families, and educators including daily schedule templates for different ages and grades.
Cosmic Kids Yoga: Fun videos on mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation for kids
Free Wi-Fi with Comcast: Struggling to access school or work remotely? Comcast announced it will offer free wi-fi hotspots around the country, plus other accommodations and discounts for low-income families. Check out their service page for more information.
Need tips from teachers at home? Parents can get insight straight from the professionals with curated resources such as webinars on remote instruction and practical advice.
Free Live & Online – Daily Meditation & Support Groups from Mindful Leader: Thirty-minute sessions held Monday through Friday from March 23 to May 1, including 15 minutes of silent meditation and 15 minutes of reflection and discussion.
Anxiety and stress: If its impacting your sleep and ability to focus and complete tasks, check out our psychotherapy services.
For more information on how to promote work and life balance, reduce stress and support the mental well being of your team, connect with us.
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, ambitious mindsets and mental health. Her programs focus on trauma, depression and anxiety, both on the couch and in the workplace.