Double Booked: Balancing Family and Work During the Pandemic

Medically reviewed by: Wendy Rasmussen, PhD
Friday, September 24 2021

As the delta variant continues to surge and businesses and schools across the nation have created their own re-opening plans, parents have been forced to adjust to an entirely new “norm.”

This norm, for all too many, has become juggling work with remote or hybrid school while also acting as pillars of support for their children as they continue to navigate the long-lasting effects of the pandemic. In fact, nearly 1 in 2 U.S. adults reported post-pandemic anxiety this spring.

It’s no secret that with this level of unprecedented disruption comes overwhelming feelings of confusion and uncertainty for both parents and their children. It’s important to note that because family dynamics vary, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The following tips can be a starting point for any parent who has found themselves at a loss of time management when balancing work and family.

Keep your children informed.

Don’t shy away from discussing the lasting effects of the pandemic with your children. Once you’ve had a chance to calm your own thoughts and feelings, start a conversation with your children by asking them what news they have recently heard and how that has made them feel. To the extent that you find appropriate based on your children’s age, share any new facts or information with them. Give them time to ask you any questions they may have. Inform them of the measures you are taking to ensure your family’s safety, and clue them in on how these changes may affect their day-to-day routine. 

Establish a routine. 

Create a loose routine for you and your family, “loose” being the operative word here. While it’s helpful to designate specific times for eating, working, playing, and sleeping, it’s equally important for parents to be gentle with themselves if and when things go awry. 

One fun way to get the entire family involved and invested in this loose routine is to turn it into an art project. Use the tools at your disposal, like paper and colored pencils, and map out your daily routine in a creative way. Hang it up on your refrigerator after it’s done so the whole family can be reminded of what’s to come.

Communicate with your significant other. 

If you have a significant other, start your weekdays off with a quick rundown of your work schedules. What important meetings do you have on your calendar that you can’t miss? Do you have any tight deadlines? Understanding your work priorities and how those can be alternated to accommodate your children’s schedules will help you and your significant other find a balance and share the load throughout the day. 

Alternate your schedules, including your work schedule, if possible.

Alternating work schedules with your significant other might not always be possible, depending on your respective lines of work. But if possible, this is one way to help ensure that your children are kept engaged and stimulated by a responsible adult throughout the day. 

Finding creative ways to balance work and family during this time is key, and many employers understand that. See if you can create a more flexible work schedule, like four 10-hour days instead of the usual five 8-hour days. Remember that many employers opted into flexible work schedules, and those are likely here to stay.

Take care of yourself, too. 

Let’s face it — parenting is stressful. Add the new studies about long COVID, the surging delta variant, and the ever-changing safety precautions into the mix, and that stress is sure to kick up more than a couple of notches. 

Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your children. Lean in on what usually works for you during stressful events. That could be meditation, exercise, or talking with a licensed therapist, or it could be time for a fresh take on self-care

If you’re working remotely, keep in mind that things may not always go as planned. You will experience interruptions. However, with planning and resources available, like those mentioned here, you can limit those interruptions, keep your kids busy, and complete your obligations to your employer.

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