{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

5 Ways to Calm Holiday Stress

stressed mom holding new born baby

by Kyle Pruett, M.D. Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

It seems a given that the holidays will be overdone yet again this year. Kids are only young once, right? After the year many families have had, who wants to cut back? Furthermore, parents have their own ideas and images about how the holidays should or should not go, and if there are two parents, it is unlikely that they are identical ideas and images. Throw in a limited budget and visits with extended family and things can get pretty exciting/tense pretty quickly. Most of us tend to focus on keeping our kids and their schedules – especially of the young ones – under some kind of control to limit the damage and hurt feelings that frequently accompany this overdoing. But the most effective way to calm holiday stress is to manage our own. Kids will learn far more about staying calm when we get there first.

1) Manage your own expectations. Perfect holidays do not exist in real time. So expect some happiness, delight, surprises, disappointments, fatigue and the occasional meltdown. Tell your kids to expect the same. Families are just like that during the holidays, even when they are at their best.

2) Make a list. Well ahead of time, sit down and make a list of holiday things you’d like to do or achieve, then cut it in half and proceed. One or two special events spread out over two days, with a generous dose of hanging out and ‘just being time’ (as our teenagers labeled such inactivity), is a pretty good pace. Get some sleep with the time you save instead.

3) Accept help from others. Remember, you have already yielded on perfection as a goal. So let people bring some food and distribute chores on the bigger events. People old and young typically love being useful, even it adds to the chaos.

4) Watch the sweets, fats (kids and grown-ups) and fermented spirits. Your (and your kids’) tensions can all be exacerbated by lousy dietary indulgences, not to mention the guilt and the weight gain, which only add more stress. Having fewer of them in the house or apartment to begin with tips the scales toward success.

5) Get out of the house and exercise (kids and grown-ups). It helps to repair the damage to routines and relationships by freshening the internal and external environments. Once, when I was in 5th grade, my parents (who were not typically jokesters) actually faked a power outage between the main holiday meal and dessert, just to get everyone away from the TVs and out of the house for a while. It was one of our favorite holiday gatherings ever. Lesson learned.

Three Approaches to Teaching Your Child to Be Kind

women holding preschool child

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

We all want our children to be happy, well liked and good to others. How do we support our children in learning to be kind? This topic often comes up in fall as children make new friends at school, and it is part of the National Bullying Prevention Month messages. This year, we will want to use same approaches to online interactions since so many children are interacting with classmates, friends and family members through video chats.  

Children develop social-emotional skills in many ways. The three approaches that make the most impact are modeling role playing and playing games, and storytelling. Parents can help to build a foundation for their young children by incorporating these approaches in their families’ daily activities.   

Modeling – Act kind yourself. Modeling is by far the best way to instill kind behavior in your children. Children love to imitate us, and if we act in a kind manner, they will, tooPraise your children when they exhibit kindness, and explain why you thought what they did was a kind thing to do. It’ll become a habit. When you see kindness in others, share your thoughts with your children. “That was so kind of Jane to share her snack with you at school.” In an online situation, compliment your child (i.e., “You waited your turn to speak.  That was great!”). When our children hear the praise we give others, they will want to exhibit the same behavior. Try not to be negative, and redirect your children when they act unkindly. For example, explain how the other person may feel, talk about what your children could have done differently and help your children apologize.  

Role Playing and Playing Games – Create opportunities for your child to play. Your child will act out reallife situations while playing with stuffed animals, robotic toys and dolls. Interacting in unguided play with other children also supports learning to get along with others. Playing games can be part of dramatic play, tooGames help children learn to take turns and develop sportsmanship. Try games where your children need to collaborate with another player to win. Relay races, parachute games and family scavenger hunts are several good choices.   

Reading and Sharing Stories – Read stories where the characters must make decisions about their behaviors. Talk about the consequences of both kind and not-so-kind actions. Children learn through the stories by relating to the characters and the events. Here are some favorites that focus on kindness to get you started: 

  • If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson 
  • I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët 
  • Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton 
  • The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace 
  • Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter 

You can also share stories from your childhood or from your family’s experiences. These are important to young children and can help them learn life’s lessons. 

 

Seven Ways to Help Your Children Develop a Positive Relationship with Food

three children eating ice cream

Candy is junk food. It’s not good for you.  

You need to eat your broccoli. It’s so healthy! 

You can have dessert after you finish your dinner 

Do any of these statements sound familiar? I’ve heard them throughout my life, so I have always labeled foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy and nutritious or junkWe are all trained to believe that foods can only be one or the other 

I never thought about the effects of labeling food until I became a mom. When my son started eating solid foods, I furiously searched for articles by nutrition experts who could tell me exactly what I needed to do to ensure he developed a healthy relationship with food. My own food insecurities took over my brain, and all I could think was, Will my sweet tooth be passed down to him so he’ll gorge himself on cupcakes all day? That wouldn’t happen on my watch! My goal was to raise a vegetable-loving, fresh-foodeating son.  

Did I achieve this goal? Well, no. Is my fridge filled with dinosaur nuggets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Maybe. Have I given up? No. I’m proud to say that my son loves carrots.  

Is that the only vegetable he eats right now? Yes.  

I’m only human, and I’ve made some mistakes on my journey toward helping my son cultivate a healthy relationship with food. I’d like to share some of the insightful tips that have helped me reevaluate harmful attitudes toward food that I’ve learned. 

Do Not Label Foods as Good or BadThe first and most important step is to make a conscious decision to stop calling foods goodbadhealthy or unhealthywhich is something discussed in a previous article about how to handle sweets at home. Pediatric nutritionist Jill Castle recommends using the words nourishing or fun 

In an article on her website, Castle shares a real-life example of the harm that labeling foods may cause. She discusses a client who was frustrated that her daughter didn’t make healthier choices. The client would ask her daughter, Are you sure you want that?” and “Couldn’t you choose something healthier?” Her daughter did try to make good choices, but she felt deep shame about enjoying her “bad” choices, too. 

“Ultimately, [the daughter] became conflicted about food, which started to eat away at her self-esteem. She didn’t feel good about herself (or the foods she enjoyed eating) and knew she wasn’t meeting her mom’s food expectations,” Castle said. 

 To avoid unintentional harm, I like to use registered dietitian Jennifer Anderson’s method for discussing foods without labeling them. Read the text in her Instagram post to learn how to tailor your conversations to the ages of your children.  

 say-this-about-food-instead-kids-eat-in-color

Do Not Pressure, Force or Bribe Children to EatPressuring children to eat can include pleading with them to take another bite, spoonfeeding them as they resist or bribing them with dessert. 

Young children are experts at understanding their bodies’ cues about food. They know when they’re hungry and when they’re fullIf we plead, force or bribe children to eat, we’re teaching them to ignore those cues. Using dessert as a bribe can lead over- or undereating as children focus on getting to the sweets. 

Alisha Grogan, a pediatric occupational therapist, says,“[] in the long run we’re accidentally reinforcing that the food that’s on their dinner plate really isn’t as good as the dessert. It sends the message that the food during the meal is something that just has to be endured to get the real prize.”  

Do Not Restrict FoodsSweet treats, fried foods and sugary drinks are everywhere. At some point, most children will develop a taste for themIf you don’t allow these foods in the house, it could cause a greater desire for them. This can lead to secret eating, binge eating and overeating 

Like adults, kids want what they can’t or don’t have. It’s human nature,” says Castle. 

Take away the candy, and kids can’t stop thinking about it. However, unlike adults, kids have less control over their biological drive to eat. 

 Maintain an eating schedule, and don’t stray from it. My son was a grazer, so we gave him snacks with milk or diluted juice throughout the day. Then, we were flummoxed when he wouldn’t eat during our main meals. Well, why would he? He ate all day. Once we set specific times for meals and snacks, we fell into a stressless feeding routine.  

Remember the Division of Responsibility. Renowned therapist, author and lecturer Ellyn Satter developed the Division of Responsibility to help make feeding your children less stressful. Basically, parents are responsible for what, when and where they serve their children food, and children are responsible for how much and whether to eat. Once I started to practice this method, mealtimes became much less stressful. I didn’t feel any need to pressure my son to eat, which meant he could listen to his own body and his hunger cues. I highly recommend reading through all of the resources from the Ellyn Satter Institute. 

Serve dessert with dinner. Wait, what? By serving a small portion of dessert with dinner, you’ve removed the feelings of restriction that can lead to cravings while making fun foods less of a novelty or soughtafter reward. When children know they get to have dessert and no foods are off limits, it can lessen their feelings of deprivation and guilt. They learn what a moderate portion is and how to incorporate fun foods into a balanced diet 

You don’t need to serve dessert every night or provide a fun food free-for-all. You can still set boundaries with your children, but your goal is to teach them balance. Jill Castle has some great tips for how to get started setting food boundaries. 

Repeatedly introduce new foods. Let your children get used to seeing new foods. My son’s reaction to them is usually “EWWW!” and that’s fine. Let your children know that they don’t have to eat the new food if they don’t want to, so there’s no pressure to eat – and no battles about eating! It can take children anywhere from 12 to 30 exposures to a new food before they’re willing to try it. 

Here are some other great ideas: 

  • Plant a garden together; 
  • Take your children grocery shopping and let them find fruits and vegetables they want to try; 
  • Prepare meals together; 
  • Try serving family-style meals. 

 Even if your children refuse to eat a rainbow of foods, it’s okay! It takes time, and your children’s limited eating habits don’t make you a bad parent. Give yourself a break, and please don’t compare your family’s dietary habits to anyone else’s. Even though my son isn’t interested in expanding his vegetable palate right now, we have gotten to a point where he will try a few new things – even if it’s a quick lick and a grimace. That’s a win in my book!  

Five Simple Tricks to Make Bedtime a Breeze

preschool child sleeping

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

We often talk about how important bedtime is for little ones, especially as they return to school or begin a summer program. It has been made more difficult by the stayathome routines many of us have adapted to in recent months. Hopefully, you have been able to keep to some routine. If you have relaxed yours lately, now might be a good time to get back into the swing of things by giving your child some structure and taking some time for yourself. 

Making the transition should start with your child’s participation. Explain that we need to get our bedtime organized so we all get plenty of sleep. Ask your child how we can do that. You might be surprised by the answers. Being involved in the solution will help your child buy into the changes more easily. For younger children, give them a couple of choices such as “Which should we do first – brush our teeth and then get into our PJs or get into our PJs first?”   

Here are five more tips to help you along the way: 

  1. Have an actual lightsout time and stick to it. 
  1. Try to eat an earlier dinner not too close to bedtime. 
  1. Keep afterdinner activities to a minimum, slowing the pace as you get closer to bedtime. Watch a favorite show together, play a simple board game or work a puzzle.  
  1. Set up a routine chart for older children who can check off each activity as they go. 
  1. Make time for a calming moment – reading a story, talking about the day, planning for tomorrow or doing a few fun yoga poses together before jumping under the covers. 

Research has shown that when children don’t get enough sleep it has a negative effect on their attention span, behavior and emotions. Routines play an important role in helping your child get the sleep he or she needs. We hope you can get some rest as well.  

 

Dealing with the Ups and Downs of a Preschooler

mom holding preschool daughter

by Kyle Pruett, M.D. Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Last evening, our neighborsparents of three children under seven, were sitting out on their porch steps, masked and full of coffee. They said hello as I (masked and at a distance) walked byI paused and asked, How’s it going? Kids asleep? and heard, Thank God” in unison. The mother continued, sometimes it’s been sweet and sometimes sour – very sour. I feel kinda hollowed out in the middle. I really love, both of us love, simply being together with them for more than just a snippet of the weekend, and other times, I feel bottomed out, discouraged.” I thoughtthere is the pandemic family anthem in a nutshell. 

Our young children are feeling much the same these dayskinda hollowed out in the middle, caught between the highs of being together and the lows of losing so much of their active physical and social life. That’s why they can go from angelic to demonic in a few hours or minutes. Parents wonder at such times if they are being good parents in the way they handle these huge swings. Their children know how clueless they feel about how to helpDisappointment is around every cornercan’t do this or that, can’t see your friends or grandma, have to wear that itchy, annoying face covering. As adults, we’ve learned something about coping with disappointment by now, but for our preschoolers and young children, this may be the first time they have had to confront it in such a huge dose. No wonder they and we are upset. They are missing out on some things that we know they need to keep growing up well. Helping them cope requires as much compassion and patience as we have ever mustered on their behalf.  

Advice:  

  1. When they are upset and need us to fix something, most of us just rush in with a tool or solution as soon as we can think of one. Don’do that, at least not right away. 
  2. Listen carefully through the tears for what is wrong. Say it back to them in your own words and ask if you got it right 
  3. Confirm that you get what’s so upsetting without judgment or even if you think it’s a bit ridiculous and that those kinds of feelings do hurt and make us sad. This compassion is less likely to soften your children than it is to strengthen them. It validates them and their feelings as more important to you at the moment than correcting some injustice. 
  4. Limit the amount of pandemic-focused information flowing at them through screens (especially back-ground TV) and from other sources, such as over-heard adult conversations. The most menacing, toxic force in the pandemic’s arsenal other than the obvious mortal threat to our health is its mystery; this scale of not knowing what’s coming is unfamiliar to most of us 
  5. Running on empty,emotionally and physicallyis very hard on everyone in the family. There are many replenishmentout there if you look. A favorite for families with pre-k children is Common Sense Media’s list of 26 Kid-Friendly Documentaries for Families to watch together. Turn off your phones, kick off the shoes and grab healthy snacks. Then snuggle up and let someone else do the entertaining for a while. Don’t forget to breathe. 

How to Help Your Child Transition Back to School after Covid

Child sitting at desk writting

By Lee Scott and Helen Hadani, Contributing Writers and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Members

We have been asked by many parents how they can help their children transition with the changes at school this summer or fall. What happens when it will be a move to a new classroom or teacher? Things will feel strange enough after being away for so long. We suggest a few steps that may help you prepare. 

Get started by planning for returning to schoolSet up your schoolday routines – set a time for waking up in the morning, create relaxing bedtime rituals, select clothing at night, etc. Start these a few weeks before returning to school. Connect with the school before returning. Ask which classroom your child will be in and who will be his or her new teachers. You can also ask whether some of your child’s friends from the previous classroom will be returning. Share the details with your child.   

Practice and roleplay. Walk your child through security or safety protocols such as handwashing, taking temperatures and wearing a mask. Explain what your child will do when he or she gets to school. Roleplay the sequence at home. What will you do? What about the teachers and your child? The Goddard School has a short video you can watch with your childTalk about the routines with your child. 

Make sure you connect with what your child is feeling and support helpful behavior. Research shows that when parents encourage children to talk about mental states including emotions, they are more likely to adjust to change and be helpful to others. Look for opportunities in your daily activities such as reading a book or watching a movie to highlight how characters are feeling (e.g., “How do you think that character was feeling?” or “How would you feel if that happened to you?”). This may help children talk about how they are feeling when they get back to school and hopefully lead to them helping their peers who may be struggling more with the transition.  

Help your child adjust to the changes by managing expectations. One way to help your child adjust is to create a play plan. Tools of the Mind is an early childhood curriculum for preschool and kindergarten designed to promote executivefunction skills through playful learning activities. For example, children start their school day by drawing or writing activities they envision for their day. Those plans help children to think and act purposefullyEncourage your child to create a play plan before he or she goes back to school to get in the habit of thinking about the day. It could help ease fears about what to expect and build excitement around doing favorite activities at school. When you are sharing a play plan, you can also talk about your child’s new classroom and teacher. Ask your child what he or she might expect from the new classroom or new routine. 

Reconnect with friends a few at a time. For some little ones, seeing peers in large groups might be a bit overwhelming since they have spent the past several months with their families and maybe only seeing one or two friends at a time. Set up a time to get together with a friend. Plan a simple activity, such as a ball game outside or a board game or puzzle. Your child might not know what to talk about, so thinking of a few things to share could be helpful. Parents can ask their child to think of three things that the child has enjoyed (or not enjoyed) about staying at home (e.g., having more family movie nights, not being able to visit grandparents). 

Following these steps and building expectations will help your child make a smooth transition. Try not to worry and remember that many others are having the same experience.    

How to Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety After Quarantine Is Over

balancing-working-from-home-with-children-5

by Jack Maypole, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Separation anxiety is typical behavior in young children at the best of times. Worries and fears are a natural and adaptive part of development. During these past months, they have had the benefit of your continuous attention during the stay-at-home orders and for when they are returning to schoolThere will likely be some return of separation anxiety as your children adjust to the upcoming changes in their lives. 

 seperation-anxiety-cartoon

 Children who follow a more typical developmental progression will manifest some separation anxiety usually around 7 to 12 months, especially when their primary caretakers hand them to someone less familiar or step away from their immediate company. This is normal. Most of these children can be redirected with mild distraction or soothed quickly by a familiar loved one. In toddlers and preschoolers, these behaviors may manifest by crying at the school dropoff, but in a way that is usually brief and is pleasantly vulnerable to redirection with play or shiny objects. Seasoned clinicians and veteran teachers, alike, agree that to help children adapt to a playdate or school environment, parents must make such transition times quick and loving. This will support the teacher and child and will avoid sending any unclear signal that mom or dad will come back or linger if the child cries. Leaving fast helps everybody. 

If a family is worried that their child may be showing behavior that has not responded to the usual approaches outlined above, they might contact their child’s primary care provider for further assessment. I counsel these families to keep to the same routine when separating, when possible. For children of any age, consistency and successful separation experiences over time can lessen the intensity of symptoms. For preschoolers, there are even some behavioral health approaches to use when needed. Parent-child interaction therapy has been adapted to treat separation anxiety. Persistence, attention and a loving approach work well together.  

For most families with children with separation anxiety, those times of tears and crying can be difficult but thankfully soon become a forgotten phase of early childhood. For those children who persist to worry themselves and those who care for them, there are many ways we can help.  

Transitioning Back to School After COVID-19

balancing-working-from-home-with-children-3

Returning to School after COVID-19 may be an anxious time for both parents and their children. Getting back into preschool and daycare centers may bring up big emotions from even our youngest students. When age-appropriate, let your children know that soon they will go back to School and be with their friends again, but things may be a little different when they return.

Here are some steps that parents and families can take to help their children make a smooth transition back to School:

  1. Drive to their School to familiarize your child with the setting. Seeing the School building will help jog your child’s fun memories of the building and all of their beloved friends and teachers inside.
  2. Communicate with your children. When age-appropriate, explain to your children how things may be different when they return, such as a smaller class size or teachers wearing masks.
  3. Assess your feelings.Young children can pick up on their parents’ nonverbal cues. If you feel guilty or worried about your child returning to School, he or she will sense it. The calmer and more assured you are, the more confident your child will be. If you are struggling with the idea of your child returning to School, think about the reasons why. Reassess your feelings. Don’t do something if you’re uncomfortable. Consider calling the School’s owner or director to learn about the new health and safety protocols put into place for children, families and faculty members.
  4. Establish the partnership.When you enter the classroom or meet teachers in front of the building for drop-off and pick-up, be sure to greet your child’s teacher warmly by name. Because of enhanced safety policies, parents may not be allowed to linger, so to ensure you’re doing all you can to keep children, families and faculty members safe, call in advance to find out. Then, let your children know about these new rules to help them understand and be prepared for these changes. If your child clings to you or is reluctant to participate in the class, don’t get upset because this may only upset your child more. Follow the guidelines described by the teacher or School and go at your child’s pace.
  5. Say goodbye. Saying goodbye may be hard for young children who have adjusted to being at home with their parents every day. As tempting as it may be to stick around, you should follow a predictable farewell routine to make leaving easier. Also, keep in mind that most children do well once their parents leave. Some parents wave from outside a certain classroom window, sing a goodbye song or make a funny goodbye face. It’s important to be consistent and do the following:
  • Always say a loving goodbye to your child and reassure him or her that you will be back to pick him or her up later. Once you do, you should leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child’s hesitation about this experience.
  • Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying goodbye may frighten a child.

If you would like more information about how Goddard Schools are responding to COVID-19, please click here.

How Routines and Schedules help Calm and Comfort your Child

2

by Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Children thrive when there are routines, rituals and schedules within their daily lives at home or school. They feel more secure, safe and nurtured. When there are changes in their environment, it can be stressful for our little ones. By establishing a routine, even if it is a new one, you will bring comfort and consistency to your children’s lives.

We also know that change can be a learning opportunity, and being flexible with our children at times can support the development of social-emotional skills such as risk-taking, self-control and independence. The key is to balance spontaneity based on what is happening around you and your children’s interests with a daily schedule that meets your family needs.

Include your children in daily planning and decision-making, like creating menus for the week to take the stress off mealtimes or deciding when to take breaks during the day for some outdoor play. Consider taking photos of different times of the day and have your children hang them in meaningful locations around the learning space or use them to create a picture schedule.

Important Basic Routines

These routines support positive mental and physical health:

  • Morning wakeup – getting ready for the day
  • Mealtimes and snack times
  • Bath rituals
  • Cleaning up – sorting and cleaning up toys, after mealtime, etc.
  • Bedtime – getting ready for and going to bed
  • Naptime (or quiet time)

These basic routines also help children anticipate what will happen during the day and help them focus on playful learning versus worrying about what’s next. By establishing these basic routines, you free up time for more flexibility in your child’s day.

Being in the Moment

Try to be more in the moment with your children when you are doing things with them. This focused attention, as you move throughout the day, will help your children follow directions and move from one activity to another. If you act distracted while directing or speaking with your children, they will be distracted too. It is often hard to do, but your loving attention is one of the most important things you can give your children. Switching your focus can be calming and soothing for you as well.

Handling Transitions

This is the time when things could get a bit rough, especially if your children are engaged in something they love to do. Transitions can at times make children feel they have no control over what is happening next. This can create tantrums, fears and tears. The best ways to handle transitions within a day’s routine are:

  1. Prepare your children. Let them know what is coming, for example, “In five minutes we are going to stop playing with trucks and get ready for lunch.” By preparing, you eliminate the surprise.
  2. Join in the transition. It is often easier if you work with your children during the transition. They will be comforted by your participation.
  3. Praise your children. Let them know what a great job they did in cleaning up, coming to the table, etc.
  4. Talk about what is next. Explaining what will happen next helps children look forward to it.

With all the changes that we face with a big shift in our daily lives right now, the consistency with routines you establish will help your children to feel safe, confident and secure.

Here are 5 Tips for Working from Home with Children

balancing-working-from-home-with-children

Have you ever wondered whether it would be fun to homeschool your children? (Confession, I have not.) But I imagine it could be satisfying and enjoyable if you don’t have another job on the line. Yet, here, we are parents, working one, two or more jobs on top of raising our precious, loud, energetic, no napping, computer touching, toy breaking, bundles of joy. At this point, my son thinks I’ve changed his name to “Don’t Touch That!”

Raising children is a rewarding but tough job. Working at home and raising children is impossible, am I right? Well no, not necessarily. It may not always be easy, but I’ve got some great tips to share with you. They’re curated from my experience and some of my colleagues’ experiences.

So, before you hear “Alexa, play Baby Shark” one more time, check out these work-from-home parenting ideas.

  1. Maintain a routine.

Now more than ever, children need a routine. If your children attend a Goddard School, you’ll have a good idea of what their days entail. Try following this routine to keep consistency in their lives, maintain your sanity and help ease the transition back into a structured learning environment. Even though we don’t know when schools and businesses will reopen, it will happen.

Don’t forget your schedule. You also benefit from following a routine. Get up, get dressed (even if it’s just putting on another pair of sweatpants) and start your day how you normally would when preparing for work.

As you navigate your new normal, stay in touch with your manager and team and let them know you’ll have time to complete things when your children are napping or after they go to bed. Open and transparent communication with your team and managers is the key.

  1. Take breaks!

A twin mama at GSI said she takes breaks to spend time with her children. She does crafts with them or takes them for a walk where they practice number recognition on mailboxes, learn about the local flora and fauna (mostly just squirrels) and play in the mud. Of course, she has plenty of work to do, but she carves out time to be with her twins.

Right now, toddlers through early elementary-school-age see that their parents are home and don’t understand why mom or dad can’t play. My son is beside himself whenever he can’t come into my room. He can be rambunctious and not on his best behavior. I end up feeling frustrated, but when I finally let him in the room, I hold him for a while. It calms him down and he goes on his merry way to play with toy bugs. I continue to underestimate the importance of being present for my little guy. I’m torn in two directions: I want to be a great employee and a stellar mom, regardless of the quarantine and work from home situation. It’s hard to do both but taking breaks to focus on your kids will help.

  1. Share responsibilities with other adults at home, if possible.

During these unprecedented times, hundreds of thousands of American workers are figuring out how to work from home for the first time. If you have a partner at home, sit down to discuss your upcoming week. Share your work schedules so that someone is watching the children while completing smaller work tasks, such as checking emails, giving the other time to be on the phone or join meetings. Then switch! This requires flexibility and juggling, and there may be some mishaps – especially when your littlest co-workers didn’t get the schedule memo – but this method will alleviate some of the stress for adults working from home.

If it’s just you and your children at home, follow tips one and two. When talking with your teammates and manager, be firm and let them know that you may need to work odd hours to complete tasks. Reassure them that your work will get done, just on a different timetable than some of your peers.

  1. Have go-to activities that require little supervision for your children.

A west coast colleague of mine has two children under the age of four. Both she and her husband have been working from home for weeks and are getting the hang of their new normal. She created a visual schedule for her children, using simple pictures that they can recognize and understand. Depending on the day, she typically takes the morning shift with her children and her husband takes the afternoon shift.

Because her children are young, someone must be present with them 24/7. To help ease the stress of juggling little ones and work, she created simple, fun activities that require less vigilance, allowing her time to check and respond to emails while supervising playtime. Here’s one of her ideas.

If the weather is nice outside, have a car wash! It doesn’t have to be a big car, either. It can be just about anything that is waterproof. If the weather isn’t great outside, bring everything inside to the kitchen sink or bathtub.

In an upcoming blog article, we’ll have a list of simple fun activities for children to do while you’re working at home. Stay tuned!

  1. Be kind to yourself.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed on any normal day, but when you throw in working from home and being a stay-at-home parent, everything is magnified. Mistakes may happen and that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up over this blip in time. To avoid being crushed under the weight of divergent responsibilities, make things easier when possible.

Yes, you may be relying on screen time and fast microwave meals more often. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Your children won’t remember that they ate SpaghettiOs for lunch every day for a week. And the extra screen time won’t suddenly transform them into YouTube Kids zombies. Right now, things are tough – and that’s an understatement.

In the end, your children will remember that mommy or daddy got to be at home with them. They’ll remember the extra time you got to spend together even if both of you were looking at different screens.