By Lucy Wyndham
As the economy slowly reopens after the pandemic, millions of parents will be returning to the workplace – and the new normal that comes with it. Throughout the pandemic, 60 percent of parents had no outside childcare help, according to Boston Consulting Group. This means that millions of families across America have spent most of the year in their own little bubble – juggling childcare, working from home, and managing remote learning with their kids. Now with more workplaces moving to a permanent remote working model and making other workplace adjustments post-covid, it is also becoming important that parents begin preparing their children for what the world of work may look like in the future.
Be Prepared For Separation Anxiety- For Parents And Children
In some states like Washington D.C., students have begun their school year virtually. However, America’s children have been learning remotely since March, when the pandemic initially began to worsen and schools began to shut nationwide. With such uncertainty remaining around the pandemic and the extended months that parents and their children have spent together this year, it is expected that both parents and children will experience some form of anxiety upon their return to school and work. For children, their fears may also include worries about their parents being exposed to the virus. In fact, some children may even be triggered when their parents leave home or get a common cold.
So, when the topic of heading back to work comes up, it is understandable if your child is fearful of you being exposed, or in some cases, being exposed themselves (for teenagers or young adults). To help them overcome this, try to begin preparing them for the separation as early as possible. Talk to your child about what the new normal might look like when they return to school. For children who are old enough, you may also be able to share the post-covid measures your workplace is implementing to keep employees safe. This can help to reassure them. Finally, leave room for inclusion. Giving your child the chance to decide some of your plans helps them feel in control.
Keep Communicating With Your Child About What To Expect
One of the best ways to prepare your child is to encourage them to speak about Covid-19 and what it may mean for their routine and other people’s lives. If you are worried about having the Covid-19 conversation with your child, use tips like the Center for Disease Control’s list of recommendations for talking to children about Covid-19. If your child will be visiting you in your office or enrolled in an onsite childcare facility post-Covid, it helps to speak to them ahead of time so they know what to expect. Similarly, keep them included when it comes to the shift to working from home. The State Of Remote Report showed that 98 percent of workers want to be able to work from home, and many businesses are recognizing the benefits this provides in helping organizations withstand the pandemic. Be sure to set boundaries and explain how the new set up will work. For instance, you might instigate the use of a do not disturb sign during core working hours.
Make Mental Health And Self Care A Priority For Your Child
Mental health has been on everyone’s radar since the pandemic began. Now, experts are showing that even though most kids are escaping the physical consequences of Covid-19, the mental impact on children is worsening. Around the country, millions of children are worried about getting sick or their families being affected, and some are even traumatized by what they have witnessed on the news or in the stores as post-covid safety measures develop. Because of this, it is more important than ever to teach your child simple mental health tips to keep them calm.
Help them to find ways of communicating their feelings, whether it is through conversations with you or a loved one, or through a creative outlet such as art. If they do share their stressors or anxieties, be careful to recognize those feelings as valid ones, and talk through the solution with them. Encourage your kids to practice self-care as well. Simple things like having a bath, limiting screen time, and having regular breaks can be great for helping children work through or share their anxieties.
Finally, remember to check in with your child regularly. With such uncertain times and rapidly changing regulations, it can be overwhelming for a child. Having an open dialogue means you can better support your child for what is now the new normal.