Start with a plan – and create structure
With kids out of school and learning from home, negotiating how childcare is going to be managed is the top priority, says King.
“Discuss the expectations you both hold regarding your availability as this might otherwise create unnecessary tensions when trying to manage working from home.”
We can all go a bit stir crazy and stuck inside – and children are no different. Creating structure during the day can help make things more manageable, says King.
“This can be a great time to get involved with your children’s interests and encourage them to join in with some of the daily activities as much as you can,” she says.
“Get their buy in and encourage them to come up with creative ideas to beat boredom. Children thrive on quality time, try to make time and space to spend with them one-on-one as it will help them feel settled.”
Remember, you’re a team (and be patient)
Working and having children at home can mean there is a lot more for couples and families to juggle. “It is important for teamwork and time to negotiate the division of labour, household chores, cooking and childcare,” explains King.
“Be more forgiving, tolerant and flexible. Turn a blind eye when chores or tasks are not up to your personal standard, appreciate your partner or children are sharing the load.”
Make a point of knowing when your partner is having an important meeting for work and ensuring you are available to help minimises noise and interruptions. “Having a routine is important to help everyone know when it is the end of the workday and when you are available for them,” she adds.
Watch your words
Language is a powerful thing and kids pick up on it pretty quick. Chances are, like us, they’ll be feeling a little scared and anxious during this uncertain time.
“Watch your languaging around children and try not to use words that pass on your fears or anxieties to the children,” says King.
“As far as possible limit children from watching the news and if you want to have conversations about COVID-19, fears around money and job security make sure it is not when the children present or within earshot. This is to minimise burdening children with issue that they have no control over, as it makes them feel powerless.”
Let them socialise
King recommends organising virtual playdates for younger kids to ensure they remain connected with their friends.
When it comes to teenagers, she says to talk to them about their fears, concerns and try to understand what their needs are. “For many teenagers their peers are hugely important in their lives and social isolation for teens can potentially be very difficult,” she says. “Allow them time for social interaction with their friends and try not to be constantly on their case.”
Open communication, she says, is key. “Understand that fear and anxiety can look like anger in children and teens. Give them some privacy and individual time, they often need it in the same way adults do.”