New roles, same 24 hours

Although the 24 hours we all have every day hasn’t changed, the amount of roles parents and caregivers have taken on during COVID-19 certainly has.

Laura Dinehart, senior associate dean of the School of Education and Human Development in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education has plenty of tips to help families adapt. In March, she discussed remote learning tactics during a 305 Cafecito Chat with FIU’s Office of Engagement. And Dinehart was recently asked to produce a webinar for Miami-Dade County Public Schools on how to adjust to the “new” normal — juggling life as teacher, employee and parent at the same time.

Her advice? Set basic expectations. Be safe, be realistic, be smart, be kind.

While taking on the role of a teacher, a dedicated work space for children will help them enjoy an at-home learning environment, Dinehart said. She also advises parents to let teachers teach, don’t feel the need to do more than what they’re already doing and know that it’s OK to not understand all of the material the kids are learning. As far as kindness goes, Dinehart says remember to thank your child’s from time-to-time, thank you child for doing their best and be kind to yourself.

Dinehart family

As an employee, don’t worry if the kids crash a virtual meeting because others are probably working under similar conditions. Your family is going to creep into your work life and that’s OK. Remember to stay connected to colleagues, Dinehart advises, by reaching out to ensure everyone is healthy and safe.

As a parent, social interactions are good, but playdates during a social distancing are a no-no. Try virtual playdates instead. Spend time with your child and don’t be afraid to break your own rules, Dinehart said. It’s OK if your child has more screen time right now. It’s OK if you bribe them with some cookies so you can get things done.

“My greatest advice to parents, as a fellow parent, is always tell your children you love them and tell them you’re proud of them. As long as they know you are OK, they’ll be OK too,” Dinehart said.

Even during this unprecedented time, focus on positives like extended family time because this may be a luxury you don’t normally get when running from activity to activity. Be honest with your child and explain how social distancing protects each other and the community from becoming sick.

Dinhart’s webinar, Adjusting to the “New” Normal: A Parent’s Guide, expands on these tips and provides many more. It is available on Miami-Dade County Public School’s Parent Academy site.