Navigating the New Normal

Emerging Best Practices for All of Us Juggling Work-Teach-Parenting

The Wall Street Journal declares a new normal as, around the US, couples and families divide up work, school, and family in intensely at-home days. On March 17 – the St. Patrick’s Day that wasn’t – writers Lauren Weber and Te-Ping Chen surveyed parents for a few of the emerging new best practices:

Share ideas in a Slack group (or another preferred social messaging tool). Maxed out by information, stress, strategies, and decisions, self-employed New Yorker Aaron Sylvan set up a Slack group and invited 15 parents in his neighborhood to join. Different channels solicit and share at-home education resources, entertainment ideas, schedules, and humor/sanity. Using Slack instead of group-chat threads, he says, “people can follow the conversation without it eating up the whole day.”   

Set kids’ schedules and work around them. In Durham, N.C., Lauren Hanford and her husband kicked off a work-with-kids experiment. With their two daughters, ages 1 and 4, out of daycare, Mrs. H began her days working 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.  As of the interview, both parents—he usually works in an office—worked for an hour Monday morning while the baby napped and their four-year-old had iPad time. Both hoped to hop online from around 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., after the girls are asleep. 

Agree ahead of time on scheduling Given that groups do better when they know what to expect, the Sylvans of NY, created a schedule for their daughter’s days that includes walks, play time and academic activities. Around it, they try to split supervision duties equally. When both of them both have work? The partner with the higher-paying client takes priority. 

Adjust expectations.  Ms. Hanford (see above) estimates that realistically, she’ll get in five solid hours of focused work a day, compared with eight before the outbreak. “I’m just showing a lot of support and kindness and grace to my team and asking for the same in return,” she says. “I keep telling my team, imagine how easy life is going to feel on the other side of this.”

Adjust conditions. Ksenia Peguero and husband installed blackout curtains in her daughter’s room to aid their daughter’s naptime/their work window. 

We’re all learning as we go, and that’s ok. Give yourself grace and space to learn and reflect.