As a professional organizer I have the privilege of visiting many homes. During these unusual times—kids at home with remote learning and parents working virtually–I am witnessing lots of stressed out parents, particularly working moms. It pains me to see the chaos, anticipated anxiety and stress these moms are facing as they prepare to have their kids schooled from home, try to attend to their own (and their spouses’) at-home work life, and maintain the household as well.
Without trying to sound judgmental, I am going to offer some observations about how I see the challenges and the possible solutions of the many families that I have worked with. Since I have a Bachelor of Science in psychology, I am also drawn to data and research and will try to apply what I have learned to these situations as well. But here are some patterns that I have noticed, even during the pre-Covid 19 pandemic era, that unorganized families tend to have:
- Lack of game plan on how the family is going to deal with schoolwork, professional work, household maintenance/tasks, exercise, relaxation and play.
Families need to have a “family meeting” about how they are going to manage and cope during this era of the “new normal”. Expectations, schedules, chores, family fun time, down time all need to be discussed.
- Lack of united front, agreed-upon strategies and tactics between parents.
Spouses need to have their own pre-meeting to discuss how they envision the new home life. They also need to support each other when implementing new house rules and expectations of the kids.
- Lack of clear expectations and understanding of the children on how they’re going to approach their school day, contribute to household chores (and other maintenance of the home) and respect that, oftentimes, parents know what is best for them.
Kids need to be told “what”, “when” “how” and by “whom”. And they will usually live up to their parents’ expectations, but they need to know what those are. Parents need to reiterate and stand firm.
- Lack of clearly outlined/displayed schedules and chore charts that the whole family knows, follows and agrees upon.
Create chore charts and schedules with the collaboration of the whole family. Some people like using an electronic schedule like Cozi; others like a large dry erase board with multi colors to see at a glance what’s happening in the household. There should also be consequences of neglecting one’s chores and responsibilities. Don’t forget to add fun family time to the schedule to create balance.
- Lack of clearly defined school- or work-space for each member of the family.
Each kid and parent should have a defined workspace with either a desk or a small table and some supplies. Using screen dividers can help creating zones in homes without a lot of space.
(Last spring, I saw a lot of eating, working, schooling, sleeping, relaxing all done on the sofa by all members of the family at any given time. Arguably, this is not an optimal situation.) Perhaps you are experiencing some chaos and stress at home. Would you like help: getting your home organized; setting up routines and schedules; creating an organized, productive and less-stress home? Please contact me for a free phone session to see how I can help you.