5 Tips for Managing Stay-at-Home Families as a Work-At-Home Parent

We are almost a month into our new "normal" here in our little corner of the world. The days of daughter one heading off to junior high every day and her high school sister juggling high school classes at two different high schools and college courses at Ohio State University, while their dad goes off to work and I work from home are memories as we all now work and learn from home. All-day. Every day. Extracurricular activities and sports have been sidelined. The kids are asked to work out and train on their own. Like most families, we really tried to maintain some sense of structure during our days. We set up dedicated work stations for everyone, we have 8-3 core work hours--that sometimes carry over through dinner, and we have all been trying to meet our deadlines and due dates. We have scheduled family walks and evening game nights. 

 And, you know what? 

We all hate this new normal. We are all tired of the monotony. We are tired of working every day without any real, face to face outside interaction with friends, teachers, co-workers, and extended family. We are tired. We are bored—all of us. But--we still need to battle through and get our work done. What are my tips for managing my stay-at-home family as a work at home parent?

We are sharing these tips as our submission today for the A to Z challenge? H is for Home.  

Be Patient. With Everyone Involved. Stay-at-home learning and working are new for most of us. Quite honestly, it's an experience that many of us never really wanted to have. My girls love learning, and I have always enjoyed adding new skills and enrichment activities to their school-based education. I have always known that I didn't want to home-school, and I have always known that they prefer the interaction and insights of teachers and classmates. The girls feel that they have everything under control--even if they are procrastinating a bit. I feel like it is my job to ensure that everything is finished and managed--and, sometimes, that may involve some reminders and suggestions....maybe a little nagging. My husband doesn't work well with distractions--and our days are currently filled with them. We all have had to be more patient as we settle into these new roles--and this includes the girls' teachers and professors. 

Communicate.   If something is going to be late or take longer to complete--or if you, flat out, need some help to use a new program or software--communicate your needs and issues. One of my daughter's teachers opted to upload paper worksheets for students to download, hand-write, and upload again to the school's online database because she didn't have the time or skills to create all-new digital assignments. It made it much more difficult and inconvenient for the students--but, after some communication--it was decided that the students could text her pictures rather than saving scans and re-submitting them through the online learning software. It saved the students some time and steps, and she was still able to grade the work. One of my husband's employees had to rearrange her traditional work hours around her young son's schedule as her daycare closed so that she could both parent and work. Just as we all need to communicate with those outside the home. We need to be ready to communicate needs and issues with our housemates too. When something (or someone) is pressing buttons or creating a distraction--it is always best to speak up before the irritation turns into something more substantial.

Accept the Unacceptable.  When my husband is on a call, and the kitten tackles one of the old cats under his desk, and the room erupts into chaos, it was initially difficult for him to address the issue (i.e., admit that he is working from home and every moment isn't professional and perfect). Now, he is a little more relaxed about it--because some of the people he is talking with are also working at home with screaming angry toddlers, barking dogs, and neighbors doing yard work, etc. We are all learning to accept that some of our tasks are made more difficult by distance. Some teachers and professors are learning to use distance learning tools that they have never used--and do not like. Mistakes happen. Delays happen. It is just important to accept that this new normal is stressful for everyone, and we all have to be a little more accepting of our new realities.

Take Some Downtime. Everyone needs a break. We generally take an afternoon walk with the dog, eat lunch and dinner together, and try to have an evening activity as a family. Some days everyone doesn't go on the walk. Sometimes, dinner is our only family event. Sometimes, the girls watch a movie downstairs without us. We are not forcing everyone to enjoy time together every day. Instead--we are making multiple opportunities available for anyone who can join in. We all need downtime--but, we don't need the added pressure of scheduled activities when we are already getting stressed to meet deadlines and due dates! 

Set Aside Some Alone-Time.  We all need some time away. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no "away" to go. One daughter does work a few hours a week at a local restaurant. My husband has taken the weekly task of venturing to the grocery stores. My youngest daughter spends some time daily working on arts and crafts activities. I head outside away from everyone to spend time weeding or cleaning up the landscaping. Sometimes, we all head to different areas of the house for some silence and alone-time. It helps ease tensions and gives everyone just a little bit of control in a very uncontrollable situation.

We are managing our days as a stay at home family--with a lot of patience and as much grace as possible. While we are all moving through our days with varying degrees of success, we are all also more appreciative of the activities and people that are currently missing from our lives. 

While we are managing--it isn't perfect. I haven't found a miracle schedule that sets our days into productive bliss. I don't have great, healthy meal plans created for every day--nor a set of pre-planned family activities. We aren't creating Pinterest level family memories--but we are creating family memories, and our bonds will be stronger once this situation is behind us! 

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