Peace of mind can be hard to come by during a global pandemic. Parents are trying to work from home, educate their children, keep the house clean and cook healthy meals, not to mention find time for shopping and personal time. With kids at home all day and many schools across the country continuing online learning this fall, parents may be feeling the pressure weighing heavily on their minds and bodies. At Security Public Storage, we share your frustration and want to help you ease the stress of kids going “back to school” at home.
Tips for Easing Stress for Parents and Caregivers
Everyone has had to make adjustments during the pandemic, but parents with school-aged children have had to take on the added role of teacher, too. Some parents have been unable to go back to work because they’ve had to be home with their children. The hours when children are usually in school and parents at work have become less regular and that usual break from each other has dissolved.
Remember to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Eat healthy foods, exercise and get enough sleep. While this may seem impossible at times, it’s more important than ever to find ways to decompress, take breaks and care for yourself so you can care for those who depend on you.
If you live in a two-parent household, take turns watching the kids and check in with each other about your highest priorities for the day. This may include reminders about work deadlines and conference calls, time to exercise or just to be alone. If you’re a single parent, try to create time to be alone and decompress. This is necessary to preserve everyone’s privacy and it’s ok to insist on it.
Teaching kids to help with household chores takes more time in the short term, but is a big win-win in the long term. Thus during quarantine, you may have more time at home than usual to teach older children how to do laundry and prepare meals — meal kits like Home Chef and Blue Apron provide detailed instructions with photos that teens can make while you relax and if you’re lucky, take some much needed alone time in your room away from the kids.
Establish and Maintain Routines
Even if you let everyone sleep for an extra hour in the mornings, it’s important to maintain familiar routines. Plan time for work, school, meals, exercise and screen time, and enforce regular bedtimes. Kids need their usual amount of sleep, and parents need the time after the kids go to bed for themselves.
Parents and children alike may feel like certain aspects of their typical routines can be relaxed a little - such as showering every day and getting dressed, but as a parent, guarantee yourself at least a half-hour of alone time every day.
Learn About Mindfulness with Your Kids
Children and parents both have worries about the coronavirus, and the anxiety and stress can be overwhelming for everyone. Consider learning about mindfulness together. Mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
This therapeutic technique practices the simple act of paying attention to our breath, noticing when our minds wander and bringing the attention back to our breath. Mindfulness aims to change the way our minds operate. Learning to practice mindfulness meditation together can help both parents and children deal with the stress and anxiety that comes along with navigating life during quarantine.
One simple way to get started is simply counting the inhales and exhales as you breathe. You can do this almost anywhere, any time. Just count slowly as you inhale and as you exhale, aiming for one second per count, until you’ve slowed down to 5 seconds for the inhale and at least 5 for the exhale. You’ll be amazed that, in most cases, you’ll be able to slow down to this pace in just a minute or two, and 2 minutes is enough to calm!
Organize Your Space for At-Home Learning
As many parents learned during the spring when schools closed, homeschooling without a dedicated space can be difficult. Organizing your space for at-home learning depends on your home itself. If you don’t have extra space you can dedicate to a classroom, instead reimagine your home into areas where learning takes place.
Keep what you need, where you need it — Designate spots for specific learning tools, for example place books in a basket next to the couch, if that’s where they will be used. Keep what you need close by, whether it’s going to be used at the kitchen table or in the living room. Consider cleaning out space in the kitchen for school supplies so they will be easy to access from the table.
Teach your children to store and organize school supplies — Books and workbooks can be stored neatly on a shelf or in a basket. Messy items like art supplies can be hidden away in cupboards or placed in rubber totes. Teaching kids to clean up at the end of each school lesson or at the end of the school day will help you keep your home organized.
Bring the classroom outdoors — In the late summer and early fall, much of your children’s education can happen outdoors. Having children do some of their schoolwork outdoors may even give you time to jump on a Zoom meeting or enjoy your morning coffee in peace.
Set up a dedicated learning space — This may be more difficult if your space is limited, but if you are able to create a dedicated learning environment, it helps your child focus on their schoolwork. Clear out a corner in the living room with a small desk, or designate a specific chair at the dinner table that is their dedicated school space.
Free Up Space at Home
For children and parents working from home this fall, the time before school starts is perfect for setting up a space for at-home learning. Creating a dedicated work and school space may be the best route to success for both you and your children during the pandemic.
If you find in the course of clearing space in your home that you need more storage space, SPS can help with that. We offer month-to-month storage units in a variety of sizes that can be used for furniture, boxes or personal items. Renting a storage unit will help free up space to organize your home for at-home learning this fall. Find the SPS storage location nearest you to ease the stress of working from home while also trying to educate your children.
And again, remember to breathe and take time for yourself. We’ll get through this.