Quarantine. Remote work. Virtual school. Repeat. The coronavirus has created a challenging situation in which jobs have gone remote by the millions and school has gone online en masse. As the autumn has progressed, many areas have been threatened with a second wave of shutdowns, as well.
While the situation is difficult for all and sundry, there’s one demographic that’s under more stress than most: working parents.
The COVID-Conundrum for Working Parents
The two-parent-single-income family is becoming a thing of the past more and more. In fact, at this point, 75% of moms and over 90% of dads work. In other words, if you’re a parent, there’s more than an 80% chance that you’re working a job.
Parenting and working were already challenging enough before 2020 began. However, the untimely arrival of the coronavirus pandemic only served to quickly exacerbate the situation. Parents were suddenly left either unemployed or trying to set up remote workspaces on the homefront. Additionally, children were sent home to the tune of 50 million in the U.S. alone, inadvertently turning their moms and dads into the ultimate drone parents overnight and leaving them suddenly juggling the triple responsibilities of childcarer, home educator, and remote worker.
Women, in particular, felt the brunt of these changes, with 88% of moms reporting greater stress levels and more than half of moms saying that they were spending “a great deal more time” with their kids than before the pandemic.
This ongoing crisis doesn’t just lead to anxiety and strain in the present. Sustained stress can also be detrimental to a human’s long-term bodily and mental condition, affecting things like vein health, weakened blood circulation, and poor sleep.
It’s important to note that both the rapid timing of these events and the unpreparedness of the country to handle an online-driven quarantine response are largely to blame for the new pressures and challenges that parents are facing.
For instance, remote work has long had a reputation for being extremely productive, flexible, and overall preferable for many employees. It frees them up to work when they’re at their best and fit personal activities, like dating or working out, into their schedules without trouble. However, when every employee is expected to work remotely without leaving their homes, it’s only natural that many will simply not adapt to a virtual work environment as easily as others.
School is similar. Homeschooling has thrived in many ways in the past few decades, but when every kind of parental personality in every kind of situation imaginable is expected to homeschool their child without notice, it quickly sets up a chaotic situation that is clearly not sustainable.
Reclaiming Balance in the Home
The eventual way to remedy the ongoing situation is to reach the end of the pandemic, establish a true “new normal,” and then discover how school and work fit into that new setting going forward.
However, long-term visions of this nature are hardly a tonic for those parents who are struggling in the here and now. If you’re amongst the ranks of remote working parents with students who are learning online, here are a few suggestions for simple, actionable ways to reduce the stress and help you make the best of your circumstances:
- Create a universal schedule: This can help you keep your family’s activities in sight and organized.
- Maintain your family’s routines and rituals: Things like morning routines can provide a sense of structure for the day and can also help you avoid burnout during the busy holiday season that is quickly approaching.
- Create dedicated spaces: Your work, your child’s school, and your joint recreational activities should all have dedicated and separate spaces in your home.
- Spend time unplugging together: With so much online activity going on, it’s important to plan in regular times to unplug from the electronics as a family.
Overcoming the Parental and Working Challenges of COVID-19
There’s no doubt that parenting during a pandemic in the 21st-century is overwhelming. Nevertheless, there are many ways working parents can minimize the impact of the current pandemic situation.
Sooner or later, the pandemic will end, opening up the doors to a brighter future that, in many ways, will be dictated by the success or failure of the ongoing virtual work, school, and lifestyle experiments playing out in the home.
So stay positive, keep your chin up, and look for ways to keep your family supported and knit together during the weeks and months ahead.
About Beau Peters