Pandemic parenting is no small feat. A work-life balance can be hard enough to strike in a normal world, but now, that balance includes homeschooling, 24/7 parenting, and the stresses that come with COVID-19. If you feel like you’re drowning, our Alipes parents are here to help. Read more for their tips on how to deal with the challenges:
Torrey Fazen, CEO
There are two perspectives to think about when trying to balance work and parenting during this pandemic: The viewpoint of the parents as they try to manage work, school, and life, and the viewpoint of the children who have had their worlds turned upside down.
From the adult perspective, it continuously feels like a fail, as we’re stretched to help with homeschooling while being engaged in all facets of work. The only way that has worked in our household is to set aside specific hours for homeschooling, calls, and getting work done. This may mean you are working non-traditional hours for certain tasks, and the only way to accomplish this is with transparent communication with your team about when you are on/off each day. It does help with not going insane on a daily basis, instead of running around feeling as though nothing is ever done right, which often is the eventual outcome anyway.
From the perspective of my children, we have tried to understand how difficult it may seem to them. They have been ripped from their classrooms, friends, and extracurricular activities without a firm plan in place for the next school year. So, we have tried to get creative. We recently transformed our living space into a “small boutique hotel with limited amenities” for the weekend and invited our children to stay as guests. The kids were able to have a private chef with room service options, butler services, and a list of hotel activities that the butler and chef would participate in. Good news: When the weekend ended, the kids seemed eager to review us positively on Yelp.
Nathan Lamont, Technology Director
The hardest part is knowing that there really is no balance — there is no way to be both the best parent, the best teaching assistant, and the best professional simultaneously. One job is forever interrupting the others, and each must sacrifice something when they occupy the same time and space. Not only is there the constant feeling of failure — "I should have been more patient helping with fractions," "I should really be replying to that email right now" — there is sometimes, at the end of the day, a feeling of madness, as if no single thought was ever allowed to be complete, and every task was only half done.
My wife and I have, somewhat organically, come to mitigate this burden by alternating our roles and physical location in our house. We are fortunate enough to have two floors, and an office with a door on the second floor — clearly the most desirable spot for "professional mode." We've set up a second workstation on the first floor, in what used to be the dining room but is now a kindergarten classroom for one, right next to our former living room which is now third grade. The parent working here is on the front lines, serving as kid concierge, kid tech support, and kid drill sergeant, all while doing the job they are still getting paid for. We take turns having full days in either the office with the door, where we get to mostly just do our jobs and reflect on the state of affairs, or in the thick of it, where we go just a little mad. We didn't plan it this way, for how could we, but we've found this alternation breaks up the monotony for both us and our children, gives us a taste of normalcy by letting us recover a little from the stresses of our many roles, and offers a chance to find some perspective — we may not find real balance, but we can remind each other that we are doing our best.
Jason Tennis, Creative Director
There are many ways to engage with your kids to make this time as enjoyable as possible - all you have to do is get creative. A few ideas for inspiration include:
Find ways to get out and into nature if you can - the kids love it and you will too! There are many studies on the benefit it has for your mental and physical health.
If you can find the time to go off hours, some public parks or reservations are open and fairly empty during the work week. Try to schedule a bit more time in the afternoon to visit something local and push your work an hour or so later in the evening.
Have a backyard? Order an inflatable pool, do a scavenger hunt or make an obstacle course. Or get a huge pool; they actually make small plug-in pool filters now.
Build sofa forts, connect everything in your house to something else with yarn, or start making inflate-able air houses out of fans, books and sheets.
Did you know the floor can be lava? An encyclopedia makes a great set of pavers to cross treacherous boiling flows.
Kids also tend to come up with really interesting activities to amuse themselves, so just observe what they do and build on it. My daughter was really into traveling around from plant to plant in the backyard, collecting leaves, seeds, and petals. We found some recipes online to mix up some simple clay from salt, flour, and water and pressed her leaves and petals into them, dried them in the oven, and made beautiful wall hangings with a bit of ribbon.
Keith Koslowsky, Senior Information Security Officer
Home schooling a five-year-old is hard. We invested in a tablet and added games that help with learning numbers, letters, and patience. We never needed a printer before, but we learned really quickly that home schooling required it. Doing the actual assignments has been tricky because he has so many distractions around the home. We found doing the lessons during breakfast, lunch, or dinner has helped. Then during the day, assigning chunks of time to certain activities has helped with transitions.