As the second week of home-based learning ends, I am reminded that the need for a schedule and routine to manage the inordinate interruption to life is essential to maintain healthy emotional relationships for families. Living in relative confinement in our own homes is unable to maintain a normal day-to-day lifestyle and now supervising online learning while balancing all the other duties like household, cooking, and working.
While we need to be creative in maintaining our physical well-being, as the school counselor I implore you to take time to care for your mental and emotional health too.
Everyone in the family, no matter what age, can feel and is affected by each other’s emotions. This transference occurs even more when living in a confined space. It is important to acknowledge this phenomenon and talk about big feelings. Strategies like having digital-free family meals, sitting at the dinner table together, and bedtime routines are great spaces to talk and listen. Family routines like these can prompt important conversations and help stay connected on things that matter.
Given the amount of screen time needed to engage in learning tasks and connect with teachers and school friends, I encourage you to set some additional boundaries around technology and devices to balance, inside, and outside recreation and play for your kids.
In week one you might have been getting used to the e-learning platform, a bombardment of information and many tasks. In week two, it is critical that you have sorted out a routine that suits your family's circumstances. A designated area to do home learning, separate spaces for each child, similar start time so the routine takes over and reduces the possibility of “nagging”. Those who are coping best, “share the load” by interchanging with trusted adults and taking turns to supervise the children, which in turn creates adult “me” time to re-charge. I have seen some students arrive at lessons in pajamas and recommend that applying the home mantra,” get up, get dressed, get started” sets the tone that “I am dressed and ready for the school day”. It can shift the mindset and expectations of the children.
Fingers crossed we can return to in-person learning soon. While we are all getting better at this online learning 2+years on, it is hard. Fatigue with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is real and needs some specific planning and family routines to minimize the impact and protect relationships.
Remember to take care of yourself so you can be there for others!
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact School Counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org