Tips for balancing life, work and children in quarantine

It is challenging enough trying to balance work, children, housekeeping, etc. It’s enough to put your head in a spin and totally go off the rails. Balancing everything, trying to prioritise what is important, possibly not finding enough hours of the day to do everything that needs to be done. Feeling overwhelmed and pretending you have it all under control and then find yourself hiding in the bathroom because it might be the only place you might find some peace. Even if it’s only for a minute, before you get a knock on the door followed by a voice saying “Mommy I am hungry” or “What’s taking so long? I need a hug” or even “Mommy there is someone on the phone asking for that report that was due yesterday”.

Here are some tips that might help you find some balance and possibly “a light at the end of the tunnel”:

1. Routine

There is a wonderful quote from “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson:

“The body, with all its various parts, needs to function like a well-rehearsed orchestra. Every system must play its role properly, and at exactly the right time, or noise and chaos ensue. It is for this reason that a routine is so necessary. The acts of life we repeat everyday need to be automised. They must be turned into stable and reliable habits, so they lose their complexity and gain predictability and simplicity.”

Setting up a routine can sometimes be confusing and stressful. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before establishing how you think your day should be run:

When do I have the most energy and the most focus ? Early in the morning, afternoon or later in the evening?

When do the children have the most energy and are prone to distract you from focus and work?

How much school work does each child have to do during the period of lockdown and how long can they concentrate for?

What are the things the children like to play? When a child is asked what they like to do, they feel included and part of the team as opposed to being told what to do, which for some can cause defiance if they think they are not being heard or acknowledged. Remember, no idea is a stupid idea. Their ideas might be a bit unrealistic, but be open-minded and don’t be lazy. Think: “can you do all these activities indoors or in your garden ?”

What makes more sense to do in the mornings and what makes more sense to do in the afternoon or evenings ?

What chores need to be done, daily, weekly, monthly and who is able to do them?

Have a family meeting and discuss these questions.

Once you know the answers to these questions, you will know when during the day you and/or your spouse can focus on work and when you can spend time with the kiddies. Ideally, if one parent works in the morning and the other can manage the children during that time, then you can swop the responsibilities in the afternoons. This way the work load can be spread evenly with regard to the managing the children and handling meals.

2. Scheduled TV, Playstation and tablet time

This is good way to prevent conflict between everyone. Perhaps use the TV and Playstation as a reward for doing school work or doing their chores without you asking them to do it.

3. Pre-pack Snack Packs in the mornings

It's amazing how much children eat when they are not at school. Some children eat because they just bored.

Pre-packing a snack pack for each child will help you and them monitor how much they are allowed to eat during the day. This also works wonders for the budget and prevents overspending and unnecessary trips to the shops.

4. Chore Charts and rewards

Chore Charts help parents and children know what is required of them on the day and motivate them to help around the house. Even if your spouse or child is not doing the chore like you do it, relax… at least they are sticking to the deal.

5. Take turns cooking dinner

If Mom cooks, Daddy cleans and vice versa. Parents should work together on this, unless cleaning the dinner dishes is part of the chore chart.

6. Parents, give your spouse a break from the kids

Alternate morning and afternoon, work together on this. Don't criticise each other’s parenting styles in front of the children.

Listen to each other and talk to each other after the children have gone to bed using the process mentioned in my previous blog “Handling Conflict in Isolation”. This will be a great opportunity to talk about your beliefs, disbeliefs and find a compromise to parenting properly and unify decisions preventing a lot of strife.

Do yourselves both a favour and stick to the plan. If elements of the plan/ideas don’t seem to work, discuss it later after the children have gone to bed. You can always readjust and start again in the morning.

7. Cut everyone some slack

You are all trying to cope with being in the same space, trying to understand what is going on. Children most likely do not fully understand the whole meaning of this “lockdown”, believing everything they read on social media and fake news. Keep calm and BREATHE, but be completely honest with your children and don’t shelter them from the truth.

All these tips might sound like they should have been implemented a week ago and it's too late now. The house is in chaos and I am seriously considering divorcing my spouse!

Its never too late to try and put order back into your house hold. We are all winging it and hoping we don’t scar our kids for life. Possibly feeling like failures, because our ideas don’t work and we actually don’t really know what we are doing.

It does not hurt to try something new. Just try this tips for a week and see how it goes . The beauty about creating your own routine is you can always change it to suit you. Mix it up a bit.

Stay healthy, get organised and…… BREATHE.

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