Balance and Routines: Managing Household Stress in Stressful Times
Parents are trying to keep all the balls in the air right now — juggling work from home, managing home schooling and worrying about their jobs and their family's health. Here's advice from an expert about that juggling act.
Morristown family and child psychologist Dr. Steven Tobias, of the Center for Child and Family Development, says he understands the need for some sort of home education for children. But parents need to make sure that they are taking care of themselves.
"I think we need to worry most right now about people's mental health because everybody's under a tremendous amount of stress. And if all the demands and the academic work is adding to that stress, parents really need to do is to take a step back and to see what's reasonable," he said.
"The first thing is to realize you can't do it all. I think that parents have a lot of demands on them. They have a lot of demands before this whole crisis occurred. They were responsible for educating their children and taking care of their children after school or taking care of the home or taking of their job and everything. So when parents feel overwhelmed in this current situation, it's really because they are overwhelmed."
One suggestion: Families should dust off those word games in the attic and play them together.
"Put a reasonable amount of time devoted to schoolwork. Then we have ... free time, time to play, time for the family, time to do other creative activities," he said.
He also suggests limiting exposure to media, which can heighten the anxiety.
Another tip is to establish routines rather than rigid schedules, balancing school work and free time.
"You can't reassure a child if you yourself are anxious, because what they do is they're going to pick up on your emotion, not just on the words that you're saying. So while trying to reassure them that everything will be OK, you have to make sure that everything will be OK."