As a parent in Chicago Public Schools right now, you may be feeling more stress with the current back and forth of whether or not any students will be in person next week or if you had your children in person that they haven’t been in person the last three days. While there has definitely been more uncertainty in the last months, you may have had your child going to school or been thinking that they would be starting on Monday, but with the current negotiations between the Teacher’s Union and School District, this is no longer certain. How do you handle this? What does this mean?
Right now there are questions about what will happen on Monday and the last couple days there has not been an answer about whether or not school will be in person until the evening before. This can make it harder to plan for the next day. Is your job remote and you can work from home or are you going into work so you would need someone to watch your child? If you are working from home, will you need to help you child during the day or can they be independent? If they need help, is this something that your job will allow you to do? Needing to figure out the answers to all of these can be stressful and the answers themselves may be stressful. How can you handle this stress?
The first question that needs to be answered is how flexible is your job and how understanding will they be if you need to work from home or is that even possible. Many jobs are still encouraging and allowing employees to work from home, but this does not mean that they are flexible if you need to step away to help for a few minutes. If you are able to be flexible, it is helpful to inform those that this may impact so that they are aware. I have found that as long as I am communicating with clients that my children being home may impact, they have been accommodating and understanding. If your job will allow you to work from home, but cannot be flexible, then this means you need to determine how to have your child be successful with school or independent play during times you are not available. This will depend on the age of your child and what this will entail. Some of this may already be determined if this is what you had been doing before. Some important elements to think about are having a space to be able to accomplish their work, having several activities ready for them to play with if that is going to happen, and having snacks and drinks ready that they can just grab. This should make it easier for them to be independent.
If you need to go into work and had been planning on having your child at school, is there a family member or friend that lives close by that could help? What were you doing previously if you were in the office? If you need to have someone come to your house or drop them off somewhere, make sure to have a backup plan set up right now. If you are not going to find out whether or not your child can go in person until around dinner time or later the night before, having something set up as an option if needed will make it easier when you find out.
The other thing that has been important during this pandemic and continue to be as plans are still uncertain is your own self-care and mental health. There is a lot being expected of parents right now with the pandemic and limited options for places to go and activities to do with your children. There have also been changes for your children outside of the control of many which can mean other concerns for your child. All of this places more demands on parents which makes it more important to make sure to take time for yourself and participate in self-care. This can mean anything from taking some time to read a book for pleasure, take a warm bath, going for a walk outside, or playing a game. Make sure that you are taking this time for yourself and asking for help when it is needed. There is a lot happening right now and more demands than normal so this is even more important now. If you are feeling stressed out or want some additional ideas, feel free to reach out to me or check out some of the other blogs on my website.