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Help! Quarantine Has Thrown a Kink in Our Schedule!

Question

My husband has been working from home for the last few months and this has brought new challenges with our 5 and 6 year old boys. Prior to him working from home I had a routine of them playing in the designated area for a certain amount of time without my involvement. We had a routine for the day that for the most part was working. If I had to get involved for fights they were sent to separate rooms for a while and that usually got them back on track and I could stay out of things and have some peace and get stuff done. With my husband at home the boys are constantly disturbing him or me and being disruptive while he's on phone calls. I'll send them outside for a time but they don't comply, inside they get too loud and crazy then we'll try again outside. maybe separate rooms and it's an all day bad cycle of my hovering involvement with their playtime and micromanaging in order to allow my husband to do his work which is demanding of his time and attention. The boys don't understand that but we've backtracked with their behavior during this time probably because they are trying to get attention from both of us but especially him and I'm micromanaging them. I'm just not sure how to get on track.

Answer

Thank you for your question. I can hear a loud AMEN from many other parents experiencing the same situation. I would first begin with acknowledgement of how stressed we all are during this pandemic. While children may not understand the details they do understand the stress and change of life happening right in front of them. That being said, it is still vital that they have structure especially when many of their routines have been disrupted. There are great ideas being shared online with tips and tricks to help manage the new family situation. I would add the importance of remembering who is in charge here and to set yourself up for success. A great day begins the night before. Write down the game plan for your day. I like the idea of a block schedule. On a piece of paper put the outline on the refrigerator for all to see. This avoids the micromanagement curse while giving the day some guidance. Every few hours have a plan for that block. Chores, play, learning a new skill, it can be whatever you want. A block time called Nap TIme is a great idea even if it is simply reading in their room.
Instead of constantly telling the boys their Dad needs quiet tell them when he will be free to spend time with them. When he worked all day at an office they didn’t need to see him for reassurance so this is probably just due to his being in the home. In an office setting people get coffee and lunch breaks. If there is a set time each day your husband can take scheduled breaks that would allow the boys to know they will have him eventually. If that doesn’t work simply say, “Daddy is at the office.” Then continue parenting them.
As you know little boys have a lot of energy. If the parks are opened up near you perhaps make that an outside play block time. Sunshine and fresh air cure a lot of pent up anxiety for all of us, but especially little boys.
You may feel you are going backwards and not on track, but you have been blindsided by many unknowns and it takes a moment to find our bearings when that occurs. The important piece in all of this is that you maintain your calm ( at least in front of your sons) and make a plan to take back the day.
PS Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time. Remember the timeless saying, “ If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.“
Nadine Knapp
Certified Parenting Coach
Nadine@parentrescue.org

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