During these days that we are all schooling and working at home together, the word “balance” has become more important than ever before. Finding our balance during the CoVid-19 shutdowns might not require new skills for most of us, but this pandemic certainly has changed how we approach the concept of balance, doesn’t it?
Even though restrictions are lifting in many parts of the country, we are still faced with added pressure from the school district, our bosses, and other responsibilities. It’s so tempting to just keep plugging away at all the work in front of us. Or chuck it all and do nothing. One day often looks just like the previous day, and pursuing balance can feel futile – or even unattainable. However, our kids need to see us modeling a work-life balance in managing all these pressures. When we intentionally carve out time to also play and relax together, we are reinforcing the message (to ourselves and our kids) that balance is essential.
We’ve boiled down the idea of “finding balance” to a few simple tips that you can implement even today, to find that good (or better) balance for your family during the shut-down. Working on balance together as a family can build your resilience as individuals and as a family unit.
Take a day off occasionally!
Whether it’s a PJ Day, a movie marathon, or a “do nothing day,” everyone will benefit from a short break from routine and responsibility. If your kids feel stressed at the idea of missing online schooling (yes, some kids struggle with that!), you can call it a Parent In-Service Day. Chances are you would have scheduled a day off from work somewhere from March through June anyhow, so go for it. And enjoy it!
Play games together.
There are so many ways to play together. Some families love a fierce game of poker. Others prefer a few friendly hands of Uno Flip. I have a friend who is a die-hard board game collector. During this pandemic, he’s introduced his kids to all sorts of vintage games for Family Night. If you have a video gaming system, create tournaments or teams. Teamwork might be particularly helpful if you have a wide range of ages and abilities in your home or if you have an easily frustrated child who needs individual coaching.
You know your family’s ability to handle competition (or not), so keep that in mind when creating your game time.
Take up a family hobby.
This tip can be implemented in a variety of ways – be creative and keep your focus on unity and fun:
- You can create, research, and then carry out a project together. Some families are doing home improvement projects together.
- Each family member can learn a new skill individually. Then host a series of showcase nights where each person shares his new hobby and gives beginners’ lessons.
- Learn a new skill together as a whole family. There are lessons online for just about anything that interests you, and you can all take turns choosing what to learn.
- Learn about the world together. Then try cooking together, after you’ve studied a nation or culture. Team up to host Dinner Around the World with dishes prepared by different family members.
You can’t get around the need to keep up with housework, meal prep, and home maintenance. But you can find innovative ways to do that work together. You can create chores at which every age can succeed and teach additional skills as your kids find success.
Some families might find it helpful – especially if doing chores is a new concept – to schedule a Chore Day with a family reward built-in at the end. Make sure that the focus during chore time is on skill-building, which means you’ll have to lower your expectations for the quality of the completed job.
Don’t neglect your spiritual or religious practices.
Whatever belief system or faith foundation you practice as a family, model balance for your kids by continuing to practice your faith even amid these stressful times. Take advantage of services or meditations online. Craft a regular family time aimed explicitly at spiritual growth and development together.
Talk with each other throughout the week about what you learned at the last family time. Ask your kids how they are applying what they learn to this shut-down time.
Staying physically active together, whether it’s a daily run, a bike ride, or soccer in the yard, will keep your minds, emotions, and bodies balanced. It’s right for you individually, but it’s also useful for you as a family unit. Keep the focus on being active, rather than competition between any of you. Take turns with the activities you choose so that all members of your family can find something they enjoy and at which they can shine. Remember that your kids love to see you playing and having fun together while you are staying active is an excellent lesson in balance.
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“We are in this together!”
Parents have more to juggle in these days of shutdowns than ever before. We get that it feels overwhelming and weighty to take on added responsibility during this unusual season. Be honest with your kids about how challenging this is for everyone (in age-appropriate ways) but then include them in the plans for working through the struggles together. Building a team mentality that says, “We are all in this together” and “we’ve got each other covered” will communicate trust and confidence to your children.
By finding some balance in parenting, schooling, work, and running your home you are also communicating to your kids that you can do hard things and that your family is worth the effort and investment. We are here for you and if you need to reach out by email or through our online support group, we’d be pleased to find ways to cheer you on.
Image Credit: Ross Griff; Randy Robertson; Upsilon Andromedae