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Caring For Children During A Pandemic

Plain and simple, adjusting to the “new normal” that COVID has forced us to adapt to has been nothing less than difficult. Remembering to always have an extra face mask in the car, meticulously counting the seconds as we wash our hands, and deciding upon safe places to meet friends that allow proper distancing are only some of the recent dilemmas we’ve had to encounter for the first time, ever. One of the biggest changes, however, has been the shift to nearly all online schooling.

Before, parent’s wouldn’t have to actively worry about their kids during the day— they could simply send them off to school and entrust them with the school faculty and staff. Now, whether it be sharing a work-from-home space with your kids or having to find someone to watch them during the day while going off to work, there’s an added level of stress with a few extra humans in the house. However, just like all of the other predicaments COVID has handed us so far, there are many ways to combat it to create a happy home environment for all members of the family.

Seek out extra childcare help, if possible

There are several Facebook groups, like Lansing Area Childcare Connections, dedicated to connecting parents with babysitters in the area. If you have the means to do so and feel safe enough allowing another person into your home during these times, finding extra help to care for your kids during the day can lessen the stress of having to worry about helping them with their work on top of yours. Local high school and college students are also looking for this kind of work as either a side hustle or full-time gig, so there might be an abundance of child care workers seeking employment.

Work in separate rooms

If you, too, are working from home, it’s important to set up separate work areas for you and your kids. This creates a healthy physical boundary between both parties, ensuring that everyone has a dedicated space for them to focus on their work. Whether you have lengthy phone meetings with your colleagues every Monday and Wednesday afternoons or your kids are on a 7-hour-long Zoom call with the rest of their class, learning about the basics of addition and subtraction— concentration can be difficult for both you and your kids if you’re working in close quarters. Assigning designated work spaces for everyone is a productivity essential.

Develop a set household schedule

Creating separate schedules for both you and your kids, along with a general household schedule, makes working in the same house all day significantly more organized. Setting aside times for breakfast, snacks, “recess,” and even specific hours devoted to undistracted work are crucial to productivity. A schedule also serves as a reminder to your kids as to when they can and cannot distract you, too. 

Take things as they come, one day at a time

Though COVID has been around since early March, adapting to the changes it’s brought is still an immense learning curve— for everyone! Remember that neither you nor your kids are perfect, and that you’ll all learn how to work in a shared space once time goes on. Give both them and yourself a hefty dose of grace, and remember to be kind to yourself. 

— Autumn Miller, Undergraduate Intern