Family Matters #10: Finding Balance During Covid

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By Lucia Ferrara

In the past several months, our lives have shifted from working in the office and attending school in person to remote working and virtual learning. This is an attempt to increase social distancing and address the Coronavirus pandemic.

Navigating this “new normal” of work and home life during a pandemic can be very challenging. We need to find a reasonable balance between work and family life. These demands are being tested like never before and with whole lot of new challenges: for example, two different environments coming together that never were meant to overlap so much!

Working from home while your entire family is also working or studying from home can be distracting; not only do parents have tight schedules and deadlines, the kids do too. Effectively managing your time has never been so important. This can be the perfect learning opportunity for your kids to learn about time management as well.

All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here.

One idea that may lessen the stress is creating a family calendar or schedule. Creating a calendar of events and schedules allows the family to communicate about what hours Mom and Dad are available and when they are not. It let’s all know who has a test on what day and time, so the house can be especially quiet.

It’s also a good idea to make on the daily schedule wake up times, meal times, break times and end of work times. This helps everyone know what to expect from each other. Kids need routines, so try to be proactive in keeping a schedule, this can also prevent anger or conflict.

Make sure to display the calendar in a location where the whole household can see it. I keep a calendar/schedule on the refrigerator, so that every time anyone in the family walks in the kitchen it is visible. Sticking to your routine teaches us that predictability is important and priorities are made very clear to everyone in the household.

Family boundaries is Asset 11 of the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets and they clearly emphasize that aa strong family relationship helps young people grow up caring, healthy and responsible.

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According to research from the Search Institute surveys, “about 46 percent of young people ages 11-18 have families with clear rules and consequences and parents or guardians who regularly monitor the young people’s whereabouts.” I believe setting boundaries and knowing what your children are doing while working and learning from home can make life easier for everyone.

When building these assets in my own family I try to set clear, consistent and concise boundaries and expectations. We all need to follow the same rules, even though rules may be a little different for each of us based on ages and maturity levels. If these assets are not made clear from the beginning then our children may think it’s OK to slack or do anything they want anytime they want to.

Parents need to know that being “good enough” is okay. We are living through a pandemic, which can be unpredictable. We as parents need to be gentle with ourselves. We can only do our best. We need to stay calm, cool and collected, and this will also show our youth that we can get through this difficult time together. Learning to cope is key. Remember that no one is perfect, not you, not me or any household out there. We are unique and learning together!

Remember that there are a few strategies to keep in mind as I mentioned earlier: keep familiar routines, keep a calendar or schedule up where everyone can see it, exercise regularly, eat healthy and meditate. Maybe even the reading together, or journaling and engaging in creative art will help. Most kids and teens are willing to try these ideas if you do it together and you show them how it works. Parents, we are our children’s first and most important teachers.

I want to leave you with some tips to reflect on at home with your family.

  1. Try to have weekly or monthly meetings to check in with each other to discuss boundaries and expectations. There may changes that have to be made and that is normal.
  2. Create a designated work space for yourself and the kids who are learning virtually from home. Claiming space offers balance and healthy boundaries for everyone.
  3. Reserve time at the end of the day to come together and meditate, eat a meal, and reflect on the days progress. More importantly, take time for yourself . Create time for yourself to be alone and debrief. This is necessary in promoting self-care.

Until next time!

[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to info@pbrenewalcenter.org. Read more about the Parent Café here.]

Photo 153489438 © Brizmaker | Dreamstime.com

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