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Tips for Juggling Teaching and Parenting During COVID-19

As many schools consider making a return to remote learning due to increased COVID-19 spread in our communities, it can be difficult to manage the transitions in the classroom and at home. Earlier this year, Nekeisha Guscott-Douglas, a third-year ambassador teacher and mother of three, shared her key insights to juggling parenting and remote teaching during the pandemic. Hear from Nekeisha below for her best tips and tricks for managing teaching in person while parenting children who are remote learning.

Time management, routine, balance, and self-care are my cornerstones to maintaining my focus at home and at work, especially during the transitions and uncertainty of this past year. Keeping the habits below reduces stress for me as a mother of three with two teenagers and a toddler.

Manage your time

By definition, time management is organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management will let you work smarter, not harder. We all have unavoidable tasks that need to get done each day, and time management will keep you focused on each moment that is set aside for every task.

I start by creating and following a timetable similar to what I make for my students each day, so I know where I will be and what I’ll be doing. When I arrive home, the first 30 minutes are dedicated to my older children and ensuring their remote learning needs have been met during the day. I try to take advantage of tasks that can be done in advance to accomplish more at once, so there is less to do later; that’s why I cook three days’ worth of protein during one prep day or organize all outfits for the week each Sunday, so there is less time spent in the morning wondering what we will all wear. My final tip is to plan for things to take longer than you’d expect, so that you can respond patiently when interruptions or slight delays happen that would normally put you behind schedule.

Establish routines

Routines are your fixed program for the day or week. You want to complete activities during their designated time frame, as best as possible. At school, this means I have specific routines for taking attendance, making copies and printing, and using breaks to check email versus catching up on personal matters. At home, I designate days for certain chores to keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

For example, I designate a single day and time for laundry each week, and if an item misses the laundry, it waits for the next week. We keep a running list of items we need for the shopping that also happens once a week. It’s not all set in stone, though. I have a flex day once a week, and this is the day I don’t do any chores, and my household knows that it’s my time to rest, relax, and keep free to make plans to care for my own needs.

Find balance between work and home

Maintaining balance in my life is very important for me to reduce stress and maintain equilibrium. I start by keeping work tasks at school and home concerns at home. To do this guilt-free, start by setting these expectations for yourself. For me, that means unless it’s an emergency, I only check on home tasks during a short break in my school day; the rest of the time, I focus on the teacher tasks at hand.

What I’ve found works well with the parents of my students is to be clear from the beginning of the year about when I will be available and when they can expect an answer from me outside of the school day. I may check email outside of this set time, but it allows me the freedom to truly unplug in the evenings or on weekends to do things as a family uninterrupted. You should also get in the habit of prioritizing what is urgent and important and what could wait until your designated morning email check at the beginning of your workday, so that you use your time effectively to handle any emergencies as they come up.

Make time for self-care

Self-care is not just the free flex time I mentioned when setting routines. It’s very intentional and is meant to restore you to the best version of yourself. Whether you choose to binge watch a favorite TV series, read a good book, or lie in a quiet, child-free space, it’s important that you take time for yourself to recharge. You may benefit from setting a time to focus on yourself, whether through a massage, window shopping at your favorite store, or getting in time at the gym. Self-care will look different for everyone, but for us as international educators, it can also be connecting with family members and friends back at home. It can be so good for our emotional well-being to set aside time to connect with the people we miss.

These strategies help me stay focused through life’s transitions and uncertainties. Keeping my routines, maintaining good balance, taking care of myself, and executing good time management give me more time to spend with my family making meaningful memories together. I hope that some of the tips above help you find ways to manage time and improve your wellbeing as a teacher and parent while teaching remotely or in person.

Participate Learning is a force for good that connects teachers and students through global education programs to foster human understanding and create peace around the world. Our ambassador teaachers, like Nekeisha, are at the very heart of our mission as they work to expand young minds and support students socially, emotionally, and academically. Want to hear more from Nekeisha? Check out episode three of our podcast, How Are You Really? Teaching in Times of COVID-19. To stay up to date on the latest news from Participate Learning, follow our Twitter account @ParticipateLrng.