Summer time is a perfect time to spend more time with your kids and get to know them better and learn more about yourself as a parent. However, not everyone is looking forward to summer.
Some parents are dreading the time they’ll have to spend managing their workload and children at the same time.
According to the Canadian Lancet Psychiatry study of mothers’ mental health before and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, “35% of the mothers surveyed reported symptoms of depression in 2020, compared to just 19% in the pre-pandemic period.”
Balancing work and kids is no easy task (just ask anyone who’s done it).
Here are seven tips that you can use to help you survive and actually enjoy this summer with your kids.
1. Relax their screen time but balance it with learning apps
Screen time/cartoon time for your kids during work hours is inevitable; sometimes it is the only solution to get some peace and quiet during your important Zoom call. But don’t feel guilty.
According to Julie Romanowski, a Vancouver-based parenting coach and consultant, parents have made adjustments around school, work and social activities, but they haven’t adjusted their parenting expectations. This type of stress and guilt can make parents feel worse about themselves, which can affect their mental and physical health.
Balance the cartoons and games on the iPad with some educational apps for children that will help your child learn and improve their skills.
2. Keep a realistic schedule
Keeping a strict schedule will be difficult, but try to plan your day in advance and see which tasks need to be done in silence, and which tasks can be done when your kids are in the room.
Sometimes it’s not possible or safe to leave your kids alone without supervision.
So if you have a partner or a spouse, talk to them about helping you manage those tasks during certain times in the day. They can watch the kids while you are making that important phone call.
It’s also important to keep a routine, so try to keep breakfast, lunch, dinner and bed times at roughly the same time. Prep the meals ahead of time, or at least have an idea of what you will be serving your family that day. Make sure that water and snacks are always available for your kids.
3. Create an activity centre
You need to think about what kind of activity your child(ren) would enjoy. There are hundreds of arts and crafts ideas that you can find on Pinterest. Plan ahead all of your meetings and schedule your kid’s activities around them.
Arts and crafts are very healthy and good for kids as they develop their fine motor skills, improve their self-confidence, enhance dexterity and improve hand-eye coordination.
If you are looking for arts and crafts kits, it’s a good idea to check out your local stores and eCommerce shops, as there is always a variety of options to choose from.
4. Find summer camps/kids’ activities and book ahead
It’s important to make sure that your kids get enough exercise to promote overall good health. Summer camps and kids’ activities tend to fill up very quickly, so it’s good to be proactive and sign up for them ahead of the deadline.
There are different types of camps/activities available (from gymnastics to coding schools), so check with your kids to see which ones they would enjoy more and choose the ones that are appropriate for their age.
5. Set boundaries and explain them to your kids
If your kids are young, it might be hard for them to understand that you are busy working, but it’s important to start teaching them early.
Ask your kids to knock on your door or not enter your office if the door is closed.
Teach your kids not to interrupt you while you are on the phone. It is easier said than done, but if you prepare them ahead of time, there will be less resistance to the idea. Eventually, they will understand that mom/dad is busy and will play with them later.
6. Accept that you won’t be as productive as you’d like to be
It might be hard for you to accept, but you need to understand that your productivity level pre-pandemic and post-СOVID might not be the same. We are going through a global pandemic. We’ve never done this before in modern history, and it’s a global challenge that has affected everything in our lives.
Let go of the idea that you can work the same way you used to work at the office. You are managing a lot more than your typical workload, and the impact on your mental health can be immense.
Don’t forget to find some time to focus on your mental health at the end of the day. Whether you are sipping wine (in moderation, of course!), taking a bath/shower, going for a walk or run, or watching a movie (without kids), it’s important to take care of yourself.
7. Hire a part-time caregiver or recruit family members
If you have the funds, it’s a good idea to hire a part-time nanny or child caregiver who can help you take care of the kids during your busy work time.
The caregiver can take them to the park or entertain them while you are focusing on your work.
It can lighten your mental workload and give you a breath of fresh air.
If your family members are willing, you can also ask them to take the kids for some time to the local park or their home (depending on your COVID-19 restrictions). It’s okay to ask for help.
Go easy on yourself
Getting work done during COVID-19 without going crazy is a challenge. Managing your children at the same time can be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. But remember that you are not the only one going through this. We are all in this together.
Maybe there will be a time when we will miss spending this much time with our kids, so let’s try to enjoy the time with them while they are still young.
With these seven tips and perseverance, you are ready to handle (almost) anything. At the end of the day, you are doing your best and that’s what matters.