Virtual Tutor: How to Manage An Unexpected Job as a Stay at Home Parent

We are living through changing times where it seems like every day it’s harder to take care of your family, balance your everyday life, and even take care of yourself. For many Fitbit users, one of the unexpected challenges this year has been needing to adjust their routine to include distance learning for their families. Despite waking up determined to make your kids’ homeschool day flow smoothly, sometimes there simply isn’t a moment to stop and take a deep breath. And that can cause your stress levels to skyrocket. 

Having to multitask on this level switches your train of thought from parent to teacher or employee without pausing, making you feel exhausted before the day is over. This could result in a negative impact on your sleep, your mood, and your ability to nourish your body, therefore increasing your stress.  

Learning how to skillfully distinguish items from your to-do list and focusing on your priorities can help, and even though there are many ways to work and homeschool regardless of the child’s age, the golden rule is to break it down into chunks like all big projects. Here are some suggestions for your approach: 

Create a flexible routine. A routine helps life run smoothly because we free up time and mental energy for other activities that require more thoughtful decisions. A family calendar and chore charts are great ways for everyone to know what to expect each week. It also helps children feel important and independent by doing what is asked of them based on their capabilities, like replacing the toilet paper or feeding the family pet. Encourage siblings to help each other first before calling for your help. Plan for family clean-up times each week to do anything that the kids weren’t able to handle on their own during the week. Check out more ideas on how to create a morning routine here.

Organize your work around your family’s needs. Save less critical tasks for times when distraction is likely, and reserve more high-stakes tasks for when kids are occupied. Interruptions and unanticipated shifts in priorities will happen frequently, so set the bar low and roll with whatever each day might bring. 

If you know what the biggest obstacles are and you share responsibilities with a partner, divide and conquer. For example, one could work while the other teaches or cooks.

On the days you know are particularly demanding for you, make sure you have enough food and snacks prepared the day before based on the weekly meal plan. If children have developed the ability to prepare food for themselves as needed, give them access to easily manageable breakfast, lunch, and snack foods.

Combat any stress before it even starts by having a plan in place. This will allow you and your family to follow the habits you already have in place. Things change. When unexpected busy days occur, you’d already be on autopilot.”

Improve how you communicate as a family to minimize interruptions. Keep in mind that homeschooling is also challenging and stressful for them, so your guidance with love and logic will help them feel better. Be clear about your expectations and encourage suggestions from all family members about how to make things go even more smoothly. Younger children might need a clear visual to understand when you are working, such as a door sign or an accessory on your desk.  If you have predictable work hours remind them of when you will be all theirs once again.

Tell them how you prefer they get your attention (knock on the door and wait for a response, slip a note under the door or hand it to you directly, leave their favorite stuffed animal on your desk). It’s also important that all family members understand how to tell when it’s a real emergency.

Having a list of go-to activities (such as free-reading, art projects or toys) to do when they can’t move forward without your help will earn you some quiet time until you can assist them. Leave out the things you want them to access and use, and put away the things you don’t want them helping themselves to or using without supervision. 

For older children there could be a designated memo book in a common area where they can write their questions so that they can be addressed after work. If they have access to a device they can send you a text message, an email, or even create a meeting to go over them. Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate their patience!

If you’ve been finding yourself more prone to arguing with your partner or snapping at your children, it’s okay—you’re not alone. Learning how to manage stress in your relationships takes time and practice.   

Take good care of yourself. Put your own well-being high on the list of priorities. Have a comfortable workspace, exercise, eat right, stay hydrated, and make sleep a priority. Take time to recharge in whatever ways make sense in your situation and avoid electronic devices as they don’t help your brain rest as much. 

Negative things weigh on all of us but we can combat this by focusing on positive moments through simple mindfulness exercises at your desk in less than 5 minutes. If you have access to our Premium service you could also try one of our guided breathing exercises.  Getting up and checking on your child even if they are occupied goes a long way. Celebrate when you are done working for the day and go about the very important business of reconnecting as a family by talking about what went well, what is one thing to feel proud of  and what they are looking forward to.

Most importantly, keep it simple. Remember to breathe, pause, give your child a big hug, and remind yourself that you are doing enough. Some days will be great, others challenging. But in the end, your family  will remember how you made them feel, not how many things you got done.

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