Many of us are working from home as we wait out the coronavirus, and our kids are home with us. On top of normal parenting and house maintenance duties, we've got teaching responsibilities and support needs for our kids, who are worried about academics, social interactions, job possibilities and our ability to provide for them.
Schools are out for the summer across the country (after an interrupted end to the academic year), interactions with others are limited and the space inside your home can become quite small. Plus, we have to carry out our work responsibilities, assuming we're still employed.
How do we fulfill the additional roles placed upon us by the viral outbreak while keeping everything together?
Managing the crisis
There are a few things we can do to help make the new reality go a bit more smoothly.
* Have a schedule. Introduce regular times for bed and for getting up. Provide structure to the day in terms of schoolwork, appropriate duties for keeping the home neat and clean and for getting meals together.
* Create some goals. This can be a time for learning new things, reading an interesting book and reporting on it, discussing schoolwork in more depth and taking care of pending things that a more fluid schedule tends to ignore.
* Set aside specific space for particular activities. That helps keep things organized and less confusing.
* Provide for some distance. Give each member of the household his or her space.
* Watch over what information your teen accesses and the activities he or she is involved in. Too much random television, social media or news reporting can be detrimental to growth. Too much careless social interaction outside can lead to negative consequences. The virus hasn't gone away.
* Introduce mindfulness. Bringing some peace into the home through quiet time, personal reflection, prayer or meditation can calm everyone in the home and reinforce a sense of security.
* Implement balance. Make sure, dad, that you are participating in such things as house chores and child oversight as much as your partner.
* Model good behavior through patience and focus. Teens who see their parents handling things calmly, with a clear direction and with some sense of normalcy, will feel more secure.
* Communicate about the virus, its impact and your kid's fears. This means talking AND listening. The National Association of School Psychologists has some good guidelines for talking to kids about the virus:
— Remain calm and reassuring.
— Make yourself available.
— Avoid excessive blaming.
— Monitor television viewing and social media.
— Remain calm and reassuring.
— Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible.
— Be honest and accurate in discussing the virus. Find out what your child already knows.
— Know and watch for the symptoms of COVID-19 in your child.
— Make your home as safe as possible, and model basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices.
If you are handling things alone, we've discovered some helpful tips that will be of assistance with your challenging responsibilities at https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/relationships/co-parenting-coronavirus-guidelines-divorced-parents/.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Email them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.