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Parenting During COVID-19: Tips From Two Moms and a Teacher

Useful advice for families during this period.

With classes suspended and working from home being the norm these days, you might be spending more time (than expected) with the young ones indoors. And even if they’re your precious tots, handling kids 24/7 between other tasks, such as performing household chores and doing the groceries, is a lot to demand of any parent. So, what can you do to ensure everything stays under control?

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For answers, we asked two stay-at-home moms as well as a schoolteacher to share their experiences, childcare tips, and self-care routines for this (temporary) new normal!

Liang May – a stay-at-home mom with two children, aged 6 and 8 (@mmlittlee)

About herself and her kids: I’m a stay-at-home mom who does freelance work, so I often have to fulfil job deadlines when my kids are at school in the mornings. My kids are also explosive – both in a good and bad way – they can be very chummy with each other, but they get into fights with each other just as easily.

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About challenges faced: I foresee most parents to be unable to juggle with their kids’ needs, housework and work. Personally, I have had ‘practice’ with a similar situation when one of kids fell ill earlier in February and I had them home-schooled for 10 days with a personal timetable and curriculum.

That made the first trial day for home-based learning on 1 April 2020 easier, plus my kids were cooperative. I was upbeat, happy and the schoolwork was manageable. But the real deal was a week later when I had to juggle tantrums, chores, and also more deadlines. The frustrations are real.

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Childcare tips and strategies: I always say the same thing – let the children lead. Not always, but sometimes.

Setting expectations like ‘finishing up X number of pages before taking a break’ might motivate them, but it can be more detrimental than helpful sometimes, especially when they really need a break. Let them take a breather and come back again when everyone is happier and in a better mood.

If you don’t have a timetable for your kids, you can either follow or adapt their school timetable to suit your needs.

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How to juggle work and life at home: The best thing that parents can do for themselves is to set a timetable that includes me-time! During this period, everyone gets to have their own quiet time to focus on their own tasks.

But still, it’s hard to run the entire show and juggle work at the same time.

In the past where technology wasn’t really a thing, timely responses don’t equate to ‘immediately’. It’s a different story today, but what can we do? Still, I’m heartened that to hear from my bosses and clients that they understand why I’m taking longer than usual to come back with replies.

My advice is to put on a bright smile in front of the mirror, keep your head up and take what comes with a positive attitude. Every day is a different day, but don’t let a petty disagreement or argument ruin any of them.

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Self-care advice: I’ve been trying Yoga and meditation with my husband and kids. We decided that we needed it to focus ourselves and if we do it right, it should give us the mental clarity to tackle everything that comes our way. But more importantly, stay positive! Remember, it takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile!

Jasmine – a stay-at-home mom with two children, aged 4 and 6 (@tjas)

About herself and her kids: I’m a stay-home mom who has been running an online furniture store since August 2019 called chairs n decor, which also carries curated home decor pieces. My two boys are aged 4 and 6, and they’re very active, happy and easily self-entertained. Occasionally, they fight over toys and just about anything else.

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About her concerns: My eldest is now in K2 and he’s entering Primary 1 next year. His lessons were disrupted due to the current situation and I’m worried about his academics because of how much stuff he’ll be missing and how he is going to keep up once he enters primary school.

It’s different for my younger son who’s still in nursery, so we’re still quite ‘relaxed’ about his learning at the moment. But he needs my attention quite frequently, so I’ve to divide it between him and his brother. Also, TVs and toys are a BIG distraction.

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Childcare tips and strategies: Balance is the key. There’s time for learning and there’s time for play. Aside from TV/Netflix cartoon time, my husband and I also entertain our sons with hands-on activities, like Play-Doh modelling and baking sessions.

I try to make learning fun, so that they stay interested. Making sure they’re well-fed and well-rested also helps. Generally, I avoid teaching them when it’s near their usual naptime. Having quick breaks between teaching sessions is helpful too, because that maintains their short attention spans over a longer time.

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How to juggle work and life at home: It’s a joint effort between me and my husband. He’s an essential worker, so he still has to go to work. But when he’s at home, he’ll help bathe our sons, feed them and assist with their school assignments. That frees up some time for me to rest, do the chores and/or tend to my online business.

Self-care advice: It’s important to have some time to yourself. Personally, I squeeze it in between my work, doing the chores and caring for the kids. Sometimes, it’s listening to my favourite music while cleaning, having a 5-minute break on the massage chair or even browsing Instagram and Facebook.

Christine – a secondary schoolteacher with over 4 years of experience

About herself: I’m Christine and I’m a secondary schoolteacher who mainly teaches Secondary 1 and 2 students, but I do have Secondary 3 and 4 kids under my charge too. I also have experience teaching younger children and toddlers as well.

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On challenges parents may face: I think that it can be tough for parents to adapt to the home-based schooling arrangement. But rather than seeing as a challenge, it’d be good if they could see it as an opportunity to better understand their children and to get a glimpse into their learning attitudes and habits.

For older children, interaction may be coupled with friction. Parents may also find out that their children are no angels when they are at home with them 24/7, but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to understand each other better.

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Childcare tips and strategies: A little patience can really go a long way. Be kind to yourself (as parents) and be kind to your children too. Everyone is in this together, not just for now, but also the future.

If you ever find yourself getting into an argument with your partner or children, take a step back (if possible) and be flexible when things don’t work out as intended. Also, take the time to find out your love language and that of your family members. This way, everyone can communicate with love. Hope this helps!

School isn't the only thing that's out...

With the current COVID-19 situation, many Singapore homeowners have had to put their renovations on hold BUT that doesn't mean you can't start planning for yours now.

Ironing out the kinks in your home makeover plan will enable it to proceed smoothly once circumstances improve, so if you’d like some professional help let us know and we'll link you up with local interior firms that offer virtual consultations!

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