As summer comes to a close and quarantine regulations ease, there is much to consider as the return to the office and school become a reality. With varying directives from state and local governments, navigating safe practices can feel daunting, especially when you’re making plans for your loved ones. 

Weaving work and family together during this reopening moment invites a shift in routine. For some parents, it’s finding a balance between working in an office while sending a child back to school becomes, while others continue to work from home and manage full at-home care and learning.

For Convene’s Global Chief Operating & Chief People Officer and mother of five, Amy Pooser, the conflict of returning to work and school is a personal one. In a recent virtual conversation, Amy connected with the founding team at Vivvi, a childcare and learning company for today’s families, to extract tangible tips, helpful resources, and practical guidelines for the return to work and school. 

With so many variations in family and work configurations, adaptability becomes key during this time. Vivvi’s co-founder, CEO, and “first dad” Charlie Bonello, and Lynne Mueller, Vivvi’s Head of Learning, offered up valuable considerations for the return to our new normal with children.

Watch the video below and then read the high level tips and thoughtful considerations for families returning to work and school.

Personal Tips For Working Parents 

Lean into community. Don’t worry alone. Gather and activate a support system of trusted friends, family, and allies to guide decision-making and ease the stress and anxiety that come with being a working parent.

Trust your gut. Nobody knows your family better than you do – you’re not going to make a bad decision.

Take your eyes off the news. Everything is elevated. The overflow of content during this global pandemic can be somewhat traumatizing. This is not only unhealthy to internalize as parents, but children take your cues. If you are freaked out and nervous, your children may also be.

Be kind to yourself. Things are not going to be perfect, we’re all doing this for the first time. If you find yourself frustrated, you might need a moment to rebalance. Try a visualization exercise by closing your eyes for 30 seconds while you imagine your favorite place. Take a deep breath in, exhale, and open your eyes. See how a simple pause can change your mood.

Tips For Parents Reacclimatizing Children To School

Habits start at home. Normalize wearing a mask (if your child is over 2 years old) and make it fun. Vivvi created masks for their dolls, so children would be surrounded by them and feel more comfortable wearing one. Create a song for handwashing to encourage children’s own agency to complete this task.

Stay calm. Children are sponges and can soak up energy from us. Be mindful of news and the consumption of other triggering material or people.

Ask questions. Get familiar with your child’s district, school plans and procedures to keep safety a priority. By asking what protocols are in place for protecting teachers, or what happens when someone gets sick at school, you may be able to understand the larger strategy.

Build allies. Find other parents that you can touch base with regularly and move as a unit to advocate for your children within the larger school system.

Tips For Working Parents Overseeing At-Home Learning

Be organized and have a schedule. Children respond well to structure and consistency.

Think about your home like a classroom. What does that classroom look like? Create a physical environment that makes learning comfortable and fun. 

Create boundaries. If you are working from home while managing at-home learning and need to break for a call or need your own quiet time, create some visual signs that you can hold up and communicate to your child with. Perhaps a red “stop” sign for quiet time, or use a green “go” sign when you’re able to engage again.

Teach how they learn. Think about what your child likes to do. Does your child like to dance, draw, or play games? Any learning experience is positive, even if it’s unconventional.

Think about involving your child in everyday house duties. Things like sorting laundry can be a math or color exercise. Everything is an opportunity for learning.

While safe practices start at home, workplaces and teams are being challenged to conceptualize new safety plans and protocols creating a unique opportunity to reimagine work environments.

Creating a benchmark for safe and functional workspaces, Convene has restructured their operations strategy to safeguard the health and well-being of employees, members and guests. By implementing CDC guidelines, state and local government recommendations, and consulting with a third tier of trusted medical experts, government officials, business leaders, partners, and teams we created the safest, healthiest and most innovative workplace, meeting and event spaces possible.

While there is no “one-size fits all” approach, plan or strategy, trusting that you know what’s best for your family can not only be the ultimate hack but also provide a new level of confidence in decision-making. Beyond trusting your gut – leaning into allies, creating routines, and getting creative can all be helpful tools to maintain structure, balance, and comfort during this transitional time.