Finding a new balance
While everyday life for many of us looks different than it did before, our commitments to our families’ physical and mental health, and happiness are still a top priority. This means adjusting daily school, work, and self-care routines to ensure that each of us and our families continue to be productive, active, and engaged while at home.
While visiting my brother recently and helping him kick-off this semester of remote learning with his 10-year-old and 17-year-old, I saw first-hand the difference a healthy work-life balance could make for families during this time.
Working together as a family, we realized that syncing everyone’s schedules gave the house a unified rhythm. We ate breakfast, exercised, and enjoyed time in the sun together every day. Periods of work were separated by self-care activities which helped us pace ourselves and recharge every few hours. The structured schedule helped everyone complete each day’s tasks and gave my niece and nephew the one on one support they needed to stay focused, positive, and energized. When they ate, I ate.
When they were working, I was working. When they were on a break, I would take a break with them, and though I normally would not go biking at 1pm, that was the time that worked best for the three of us. The other integral part of our productivity and self-care was having a workspace separate from the bedroom. It kept their personal space from being influenced by the stress of school and prevented them from feeling too relaxed during class.
A mixed and well-balanced routine that prioritizes self-care is as crucial to your child’s success as it is to yours. Check out these tips on how to maximize your family’s potential by focusing on your mental health while working and learning remotely.
- Establish a designated workspace for yourself and your children. Workspaces should be outside of your bedroom, so you do not associate work with your rest area. This area should be comfortable, well lit, and as far away from noise and distractions as possible.
- Establish a schedule. Remote work and learning can be chaotic as you try to merge multiple schedules into one well-oiled machine. A daily agenda can help your family maintain order, maximize time, and be more productive throughout the day. Scheduling a fun evening activity like game night, movie night, or video games as a daily reward for a smooth day may give your family something exciting to look forward to when things get monotonous.
- Try to maintain some of your old routines while you create new ones. Do not cut back on quality time just because the time spent together at home has increased. Continue having meals together and carve out specific time to connect. It is important to remember that all time spent with another person is not quality time. Time spent at work and school, though at home together, is not quality time. Maintain a sense of normalcy by continuing the activities you would typically do to nurture relationships with your family members. If you realize that your family could benefit from more quality time, now is a great time to find some of your family’s shared interests. In fact, it may help alleviate some of the isolation your family members feel from not being able to interact with their peers.
- Take frequent breaks. Use breaks to give your mind a rest from technology. Breaks can be used to stretch, go for a short walk, doodle, listen to music, enjoy some fresh air. The list goes on. Tomorrow, use one of your breaks to try something different.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself and your family. COVID-19 has changed the way we all live, work, and learn. Have patience with yourself and your family as you adjust to your new shared work environment. After all, practice still makes perfect.
- Be social (-ly distanced). Be intentional about staying connected to your friends and family. There are many ways to connect with your loved ones while staying safe. Keep your circle together with video chats, virtual book clubs, online games, socially distanced exercise dates, and more. Get creative!
Lastly, remember when you feel better, you do better!