How to Handle Virtual School While Being a Working Parent

By Gena Ellis
August 27, 2020

Do you feel like you’re at your wit’s end?

Are you tired of juggling home, work, and school?

Do you look at others and they seem to have it all together while you can’t figure it out?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’re not alone. You may have finally gotten your schedules synchronized for the summer. Now it’s time for a “new normal” back to school. There are so many different scenarios around going to school this year. Nevertheless, having a plan containing structure as well as flexibility can keep you from jumping off the deep end.

Here are some strategies to help you keep your head above water as you handle virtual school while working.  

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Over-communicate with the people in your life. Be clear and concise in your communication. Find out what is the best way to reach out to your child’s school/teacher (phone call, text, email, Class Dojo, etc.). Talk with your children. See how they are feeling about going back to school or having to attend school virtually. Have an honest conversation with your supervisor in order for them to be aware of your situation. With your spouse, articulate what you need and how you need them to assist the family during this time. For example: I need your help with the shopping or I need you to handle homework with the kids. In order to stay on track, have a weekly family meeting to plan for and discuss your schedules, activities, and meals for the upcoming week. 

2. Have Realistic Expectations.

The word, “unprecedented,” has been used many, many times to describe what we are experiencing. Our lives are not the way they were in the past. As a result, having realistic expectations of yourself and your family can minimize stress. Your spouse may not wash dishes or clothes the way you do, and that’s okay. Recognize the tasks of washing the dishes and/or clothes that are done. Even better, you didn’t have to do them

3. It’s Okay To Ask For Help.

Now is the time to lean on friends and family. Right now, families, in conjunction with friends, are creating educational co-ops. (Especially if the children are doing school virtually.) It allows families to rotate where the kids are week by week. You may have them this week, and they are with another family next week. Some families are enlisting grandparents to help with transportation to and from school or activities. You may consider hiring a family helper who will watch the kids after school, help with homework, and/or take them to afternoon activities. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength

4. Create A Schedule.

It is important to plan and prepare while also being open and flexible. Items you should consider including in your planning: child’s daily drop off and pick up times, time to sign in to class virtually, virtual daily class schedule, your work hours (any mandatory and/or scheduled meetings), lunch break, as well as your spouse’s work schedule (including meetings), meals planned for the week, extracurricular activities, and family time.

5. Be Mindful Of Your Stress Level.

Recognize the importance of managing your stress levels. Stress, whether it comes from work, parenting, or everyday life, can have negative effects on your mood and immune system. Seek ways to moderate your stress. These may include finding time for you to exercise (a walk in the park, a bike ride), getting the right amount of sleep, and eating a well-balanced diet. Utilizing your friends and family as support for you and your family also can minimize stress

In your wildest dreams, you probably never considered you would have to handle virtual school while being a working parent. Being productive during this season means using all the tools you have at your disposal (friends, family, co-workers, any additional resources). If this time has taught us anything, it is “we are better together.

Image from AdobeStock.com

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