By Narges Raiss
As confinement and self-isolation fell upon us, my family had to face a new reality and adjust to it. We are a family of five and with my husband and I as working parents, alongside our three children (7, 5 and 2), we heavily relied on schools so we could make ‘work’ possible, so when circumstances changed, adjustments had to be made.
I have been solid advocate of daily routine throughout my journey and a firm believer of its power and benefits. My first remark would be that children adapt to new situations more easily than us parents. I have witnessed first-hand how they seemingly created a new routine for themselves, without overthinking it — whereas, us adults and parents, have to re-invent how we work, to uphold our professional responsibilities alongside becoming teachers.
As every parent knows, each child is different. My older was able to learn to work by herself, my younger two need constant attention. After a bumpy start to scheduling, learning all about internet network coverage, we managed to somehow create a learning environment and routine.
As a working mother, I had to make an adjustment, my work commitments had to take a backseat whilst I made sure my children attend their daily virtual meetings, understood their respective lessons, and submitted their daily work.
Despite the struggle of juggling, working from home, homeschooling, housework and general day to day home commitments, the routine we have in place makes sure that we all get our ‘work’ and play time.
To give you a real insight into our day; I am sharing below a diary entry of a pretty full typical weekday for our family of five during quarantine.
7.30–8.30: Breakfast, clean up, and change into normal clothes (I believed changing into normal clothes their brains into thinking that it is not the weekend or we are not on holiday and it helped settle them into the new routine.)
8:30 to 9am: We start prepping everything needed for the morning. From switching on devices, getting work books/pencils etc.
9am: Homeschooling begins, with the first teacher/student video call which lasts approximately 30 to 45 minutes. During this time, I take advantage of the ‘time’ and proceed to check my work emails whilst keeping one eye on all the kids.
10 am: Both older children have video calls with their respective classes and I find myself juggling between screens making sure everything is going smoothly and preventing the little one from crashing their video calls.
10:30 to 12:30pm: This is where I switch to teacher mode, and we carry on with homeschooling provided by the school, and where the kids need my involvment, attention and most days motivation.
We go on to continue writing assignments, math exercises, languages and reading, and PE activities with small water/snack breaks in between subjects.
12:30 until 13:30: We move onto have lunch, and then the roles get split, my husband takes on the two older as I tend to my younger child. He usually bakes/cooks dinner or conducts a crafting activities to keep them busy (and quiet).
However as a working parent, if something work related comes up we allow some screen time.
Whilst my older kids are occupied, my 2 year old naps, and this is the time I take advantage of by catching up on work emails, phone calls, team meetings and cater to urgent requests — or house chores!
4pm — We incorporate snack time and outdoor play time with one parent supervising and the other resumes house work and prepares dinner.
6:30 to 7:30pm Dinner, alongside of our daily catch-up call with our families’ abroad. Post dinner the kids shower, move onto story or quiet time and because we are bound by school drop off’s we let the kids go to bed a litte later (8.30pm)
The key word to making all this work is flexibility as some days are better than others. When we start losing track of our schedule, we simply let go and quickly move on in order to avoid a burn-out and tantrums which can in the long run can result in draining our energy. But more importanly by moving on, our priority is making sure that especially during these times that our children are protected and cared for, for me mental health for us all is more important than my child knowing the difference between a herbivore and carnivore.