By Laura Johnson-Hughes, L.M.S.W.
Families are facing new challenges with the uncertainty of school expectations this Fall. Not only are parents struggling over the decision of in-person vs on-line school, but they are trying to figure out how to balance work.
Here are some options to make it a little easier:
- Some families are budgeting for a teenage mother’s helper or even a part-time babysitter for a couple hours a day to help.
- Hiring someone to take care of some of the key household responsibilities, using a housekeeper or someone to complete some chores, grocery delivery, laundry services, meal delivery. This can create more time to support work, school, family time etc.
- Establishing a “school pod” with a group to share the responsibility of keeping the children focused on their schoolwork is a strategy. Some families are hiring a high school or college aid person to help with this tutoring and others are hiring individuals with an education background to assist. This way a designated family takes the lead and will host for a certain day of the week, allowing the other families to focus on work, the home, or another child.
- For other families, even having parents take the lead with monitoring/tutoring responsibilities between a couple households rather than hiring a tutor or teacher is still a way to find some balance without incurring the added cost.
If you are sharing caregiving responsibilities, it may be helpful to work out a schedule that allows for better balance. Many of us enjoy every ounce of sleep we can get! If you could see me, you would see my hand raised high. We would also agree that we are more efficient with uninterrupted time. Identifying an unorthodox schedule may allow you to balance and manage your day.
- What if you started each day 45 minutes to an hour earlier? Having that time to yourself for self-care, to organize, to review your goals for the day or maybe to get an early start on emails.
- If there are two caregivers in the home, perhaps you could alternate so that one of you is able to get a little more rest while the other gets started on their day.
- It is certainly not ideal . . . some parents focus on the family after work and then need to finalize work tasks and address emails after the kids are settle in at night. I remember having this type of schedule and I would finish 1-2 hours of work in the evening and my family knew that Saturday morning and a couple hours Sunday evening was my time to get ahead or catch up with work.
- For those that are working from home, consider evaluating your schedule for the week or even the day to determine where you can take your breaks. Identify that time to help with your child’s homework every couple hours, start dinner or begin the laundry.
- For those that work long hours, consider taking on responsibility with tasks that do not need to be completed at a certain time. Laundry, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, making lunches, starting that crockpot dinner and meal prep are a few options that could be done with
What I also can share is that working to balance home and work like this for long periods of time is challenging to maintain. It is just as important to recharge. So schedule, when you are taking a break, when you are working out, when you are having date night and when you can have some alone time in order to avoid being overwhelmed and wearing yourself out. This is where taking a day off here and there for a long weekend, scheduling with a mother’s helper and setting up a play date for your child with a like-minded family may go a long way.
Bottom line: Be patient with yourselves, be patient with others and there may be some areas that you need to lower some expectations or do differently – Difficult times require creative and flexible strategies.