COVID-19 brings a whole new meaning to “working parent”.
COVID-19. Coronavirus. Social distancing. Self-isolation … Six weeks ago, these were obscure, unknown terms. With new information to digest daily, this new normal has presented us with an uncomfortable, uncertain state of living – at best. Circumstances are changing, sometimes hour to hour. And, as they do, we readjust our schedules, our daily routines, our expectations, our plans. We’re facing major life disruptions, and with this comes many unanswered questions surrounding how we can best support our children and families while also juggling our own professional obligations at the same time.
I’m sure we’ve all read one or two parenting books in our lifetime – but I definitely don’t remember there being a chapter on “How to parent during a pandemic while working full time and homeschooling your children.”
So while there is no rule book for how to navigate this new normal, it is our responsibility as parents to embrace the changes happening in the world around us so we can continue to nurture and protect our families.
I know, as I write this from home, with my nine-year-old hovering, that we have a lot to figure out. But I also know, for this reason, it’s never been more important to equip ourselves with the proper tools and resources as we tackle these new challenges and work toward solutions together.
I am a co-parent to five amazing children. A wife. A social entrepreneur. The founder and CEO of a global quality of life company offering secure and effective digital healthcare delivery solutions. More than ever, in the last month, I’ve learned that the daily task of managing our children’s remote learning and development, ensuring that they are happy and mentally healthy, often while working, requires flexibility, adaptability and connection. It also requires hope.
While our group of companies works in tandem to provide innovative technologies and clinical practice to improve the quality of life for families, our mission at The Uncomplicated Family (TUF) Group has always been to connect communities to inspire hope for the future.
Managing behaviour, school performance or overall wellbeing starts with connecting to our children’s experience. Children at the moment are likely quite confused by the current circumstances and unsure of how they are supposed to act. Kids do most of their work in school – where the structure, teaching style and physical environment are designed to foster learning. They’ve grown accustomed to these structured and supported learning environments – without them, they may feel lost, confused or disoriented.
More time at home means more time behind screens. The debate on ‘screen time’ has become increasingly pervasive for parents everywhere. But what if we viewed digital technology as part of the solution to our newfound challenges? When we consider the content and the context of use, increased screen time for kids has the opportunity to positively impact our children’s health and wellness. Albeit a different learning environment, but digital tools that foster learning and development do exist.
The reality is that over half of the world’s children play video games and/or engage in technology for more than an hour a day, and I am sure this number has seen a spike in recent weeks. Long before COVID-19 began its global journey of upending family life, we recognized the important role that technology played in offering the fun and digital experience that kids are seeking from video games while giving parents confidence that they are supporting their child’s cognitive (that is, learning and brain) development.
The Uncomplicated Family Group recently launched the revolutionary Kids Digital Health platform – the world’s only safe and therapeutic space for young kids and their caregivers to enjoy gaming content while improving their lives. Supported by extensive research and scientific evaluation, the portal offers safe and age-appropriate games and apps that help improve cognitive functions such as memory, attention, social skills and speech.
I think we can all agree that being a working parent is no easy feat as childcare and education responsibilities shift. We’re wearing all the hats and need proper tools and resources to ensure we are supporting our children’s learning, health, and overall well-being.
As parents, we should be supporting each other but also empowering each other to embrace digital technology and all that it has to offer our children. Choosing platforms that have been built for kids – that are effective, safe and secure, and ultimately improve quality of life for our children is important. If we take the time to do this as parents, we can have peace of mind that our kids are safe, having fun, and are mentally benefitting from engaging in these technologies. Then we can balance our work lives too.
Yes, the world is changing. And yes, the unknowns of tomorrow can be daunting. But what I know for sure is that digital solutions remain critical for our children’s health and wellbeing – and better yet, they are available and accessible for parents around the world as we adjust to this new normal.
This gives me hope for the future.
Robyn Woods, BA, MA, SLP, is a clinician and digital innovator transforming healthcare service delivery with Teleroo™ World, a suite of technologies that enable collaboration between patients, caregivers and their circle of care. She is the founder and CEO of The Uncomplicated Family Group (theuncomplicatedfamily.com), a leading digital health and innovation company based in Calgary, AB, Canada. Find out more on Twitter: @TUF_Family, Instagram: @TheUncomplicatedFamily, Facebook: @TheUncomplicatedFamily and LinkedIn: @TheUncomplicatedFamily.