Dear Work From Home Parent,

Dear Work From Home Parent,

5 Practical Tips on Coping with the New Norm

We’ve all been disoriented by the sudden turn of events in how to cope or comply with the directives to get this global pandemic under control. It’s like a dreadful marathon show re-run that we just keep on watching. The world has abruptly changed, and it requires us to change along with it. We’re dragged in a state of disarray figuring out how to adjust to this new norm. Our daily routines are shaken up; some of us still shaken up. But I sincerely hope that we find our bearings sooner than later.

We combat boredom, anxiety, sadness, the fear of the unknown, and a host of emotional stressors that work up a storm in us. We feel more unsettled than ever. New phrases like social distancing could be better defined so that we do not feel isolated. We need to be reminded that the whole premise of quarantine is physical distancing. It may feel lonely right now, but truly – you are not alone in this. Every sensible citizen of the world can empathize with this health and humanitarian crisis.

I’m going at this from the lens of a parent. The responsibility falls on our shoulders to make sure we protect our family and keep our household running. We need to be thoughtful about how we explain to our children what’s currently going on in this world, careful not to instill a sense of fear. We need to demonstrate stability, calmness, and resilience.

It’s easier said than done. I’m a working mom who suddenly found myself an integral part of crisis schooling. My first day of implementing an e-learning curriculum for a kindergartener was more demanding than I was ready for. Little kids cannot do everything independently 100% of the time. They need constant supervision to stay on track with a set schedule, making sure we cover every subject and do the assigned homework. It was a difficult transition and it certainly is a huge commitment. But we all just do what we have to do to balance the demands of our job — mindful to be present at work and to be present for our family at the same time.

Here are some realizations that came to me in the two weeks of embracing a two-part inseparable yet distinctive dual role as a full-time mom and a full-time employee:

Approach this time with grace

Be kind to yourself. We all had to do a major overhaul of our routines. There is understandably an adjustment period where you work out the kinks. Not everything is going to run smoothly, and frankly, no one is expecting you to get it all figured out at once. So do not beat yourself up if you feel that things are currently out of control.

Make time to connect with others

This environment makes us feel disconnected, even if it is really easy to connect virtually. We are social creatures by nature, and we do need personal connections one way or another. I’m an introvert and I do miss being around people! We can encourage others by dropping a quick note that lets them know you’re thinking of them. I know it warmed my heart when I heard from a family member, a friend, and a co-worker this week who just checked-in on things even for a few minutes of candid, genuine conversation.

Clear the clutter

Every corner of our humble abode is practically fully utilized throughout the day as we work and do school at home. By the day’s end, our house has turned into a hazardous battleground of what looks like a volcanic eruption of toys, food crumbs, and art supplies everywhere. Princeton University Neuroscience Institute says that clutter limits your brain’s ability to process information. As this one is directly tied to my sanity, we simply must start with a clean slate each day and make it part of our evening routine to clean and clear things out. It helps tremendously in being able to think clearly.

Set some structure

Structure your days by setting up a solid morning and evening routine. Test out and fine-tune this routine until you find what works best. Structure your workday also by setting up an achievable list of the top three most important tasks for the day that move the needle to your goals. Yes, do your best to set up some structure but have some margin to tend to the call and clamor of personal matters. Just get right back on the agenda, and check off your high-impact tasks, which serves as a success indicator of a good day in the books.

Expend energy on productive things

Try not to consume information from news and social media immediately as you wake up. Turn the TV off and put your phone away for extended periods of time. Tune out the noise that doesn’t add value to your life. Instead, you can get re-acquainted with your interests or re-commit to complex goals. Now is the time to exchange life’s worry for life’s wonder. Take the time to discover essential and productive things that are worth your energy and attention.

Now is the time to exchange life’s worry for life’s wonder. Take the time to discover essential and productive things that are worth your energy and attention.

Shiela Bernardo

We’re living in unprecedented times. The history of the human race demonstrates that its populace constantly changes and copes for survival, and this is no different. We may possibly go back to the way things were before the strong disturbance of COVID-19 to our society. But it wouldn’t come as a surprise if we progressively transform and contour into this experiential mold that’s collectively shaping new realities. Only time will tell.

Take heart that there are still things in our control. Some of the tools in our arsenal are love, patience, kindness, goodness. Remember this when you come out for a quick grocery run. We shouldn’t be stringent in deploying these to a world that needs it more than ever. How about making it even more achievable, and starting in our own home first? Have a good dose of patience toward your children. Offer a heaping serving of love toward your spouse this week. It is through adversity that our loved ones define who we really are.

We’re all roped in this war. You may be a soldier fighting in the front lines, both scarred and scared. You may be a passive participant sitting inside of your homes adhering to the containment scheme. I see you… We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven into despair; we’re struck down but not destroyed. I hope and pray that this too shall pass.

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. ”

John Lennon
Shiela Bernardo is an advocate for up-skilling in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field. She is a self-taught computer programmer. She takes up Global Leadership Executive MBA in Business Analytics at the University of Texas at Dallas. She perpetually seeks to demystify how to keep the house clean with two active young daughters while working out her personal goals. She looks out for opportunities to live a missional, purposeful life in the backdrop of ordinary daily experiences. She blogs about family, faith, and finances in her spare time. She lives in Frisco, TX with her family. ♥

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