Five ways to prevent parental overwhelm


 January 13, 2021


Bear these five tips in mind if you don’t want your working parents to become overwhelmed by having to homeschool once more.

Although we’ve already experienced schools closing and figured out how to use Zoom and, even more importantly, the mute button, this lockdown is set to be even more difficult in many ways.

Fatigued parents no longer have the benefit of lighter warmer days to motivate them to work before their children wake up, or after they’ve gone to bed. While working mothers, who were 47% more likely to have lost or quit their jobs last time around, are understandably anxious about the impact on their career.

So, with next Monday (Blue Monday, 18 Jan), already set to be the most depressing day of the year, here are five things you can do to help parents take advantage of care options they might not be aware of and stay productive and positive, to reduce the risk of them becoming overwhelmed.

Five ways to prevent parental overwhelm during lockdown #3

1. Make sure they weigh up all the options

There are a number of differences between this and the first lockdown that provide more childcare options for parents. Firstly, families with children under the age of 14 are allowed to link with another household to form a ‘childcare bubble’ to provide informal childcare. Support bubbles, that allow single adults to mix with one other household, are still allowed (although this could be scrapped under a tighter lockdown) and schools and nurseries are still open to children under the age of 5. Schools also remain open to the children of key workers.

2. Help people to avoid slipping into gender stereotypes

When schools last closed, women overwhelmingly found themselves taking on most of the responsibility for homeschooling. Many families justified this on the grounds that the mother was ‘better with the children’, ‘already working flexibly’ or ‘earning less’. Yet, in reality, many fathers were more than willing and able to share the load. This led to record numbers of women leaving the workforce, so it’s essential that this time around working parents take a moment to consider whether they’re doing what’s right for their family or simply slipping into gender stereotypes.

3. Have a coaching conversation with those in turmoil

Instead of attempting to tell those struggling to work out a strategy what you would do in their position, or what other people are doing, it can be incredibly helpful to instead coach them through what they think they should do. Refrain from giving advice and instead seek to listen, understand and show empathy to create a safe space where they can vent their anxieties. Most people already know what would work best for them and just need a coaching conversation, and to be asked questions like ‘what one thing will improve your situation’ to empower them to say what they want.

4. Provide access to independent support

Many people are understandably anxious about voicing their family-work balance concerns to their employer, for fear of negative repercussion. Why not offer access to confidential support, in the form of a 1:1 online coaching session, with one of our qualified coaches? This will help them thrash out what they need to do, and even how to roleplay asking for support from their partner or manager. You could also provide access to a group workshop, such one of our group webinars on topics ranging from Work Family Balance to Mastering Emotions for Success During Turbulent Times.

5. Offer adaptive, not just flexible working

Flexing hours isn’t enough. Especially since fitting a working day around schooling young children might be possible for weeks at a time, but it’s not possible for months on end, if you don’t want your working parents suffering from burnout. Instead, encourage managers and individuals to focus on sustaining, or even improving their personal effectiveness, by focusing on their output instead of the hours worked. Encourage them to think about what three things they can do this week that will have the biggest impact, and add the most value, both at work and for their family. Helping them to focus on doing less more effectively will also help them to reduce stress levels and feel like they’re still succeeding despite the scale of the challenge ahead.

This week’s blog is written by co-founder of Parent & Professional, Helen Letchfield.

Free Webinar to Support Your Working Parents

There’s never been a more difficult time to be a parent and a professional, so we are giving away a free one-hour group webinar, on the topic of your choice, when you purchase two or more other group webinars, before 28 February 2021.

Webinar Topics Include:

Work Family Balance for Parents – with Louise Hallet – help working parents respond to the challenge of homeschooling and manage the resulting stress, by allowing them to come together as a virtual group. We will discuss common challenges and share tips on managing work family balance.

Boost Personal Effectiveness – with Andrew Kitton – with working parents having to split themselves between work and homeschooling, personal effectiveness skills have never been more important. We look at four systematic steps and exercises for boosting personal time management to create a plan.

Mastering Emotions for Success during Turbulent Times – with Harriet Waley-Cohen – with working parents understandably feeling overwhelmed, this webinar looks at how to proactively manage your inner world and prioritise what really matters so you can continue to be successful in turbulent times.

Overcoming Imposter Phenomenon – with Dr Terri Simkins – imposter syndrome, the feeling of not being good enough and the stress of feeling like you’re going to get found out can drain parents at the best of times. We explore what gives rise to these feelings and how to deal with them.

Progress, not Perfection – with Harriet Waley-Cohen – striving for perfection can be a destructive force, compared to the empowering attitude of simply striving for progress. Here we focus on not making life more difficult than it needs to be and how to focus on wellbeing and success instead.

Boosting Visibility as a Working Parent – with Louise Hallett – in challenging times, it’s easy to jump into a reactive mode and focus only on getting through day-to-day tasks. So, this session looks at how to continue to think strategically about how to get noticed and keep motivated.

Managing a Flexible Career – with Andrew Kitton – support those working flexibly, with this session on how to maximise enjoyment, productivity and chances of career progression, whilst working flexibly. Find out what the top five mistakes are when working flexibly and how to avoid them.

Managing Remotely – with Andrew Kitton – with everyone working from home once more, managers also face challenges. So, bring your managers together with this one-hour interactive session for them to exchange challenges, tips and ideas to create a culture of solidarity and support.

To claim your 3 for 2 offer – decide which three workshops you would like and email helen@pandpcoaching.co.uk to reserve one of them for free!


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