Q & A With Dr. Amy Seay Child Psychologist | Final Part a Three-Part Series

Dr. Seay child psychologist from Arkansas Children’s Northwest shares her insights about some of the signs and symptoms parents should be aware of, as well as many resources for additional help.

Q: I am working from home while trying to care for my kids. Any advice?

Let’s be real, if you are a parent working from home, it is not going to be easy to balance being present enough to manage your child’s needs: food, entertainment, safety and concentrate on your work at the same time.
You might be hearing a lot of “watch me” or “why do you work instead of playing with me,” consider replying (likely 37 times) “I’m home to make sure that our family stays healthy and well but I still have to work” (and try to follow it up with an expectation for when you might be able to take a break if possible).

Here are some additional tips for working at home:

  • Try to set boundaries
  • Try to make your workspace a kid-free zone if possible
  • Take a lunch break at the normal time and other breaks you typically give yourself (then increase them 2x or by 37, because well…kids)
  • Make a list of things to get done/to tackle
  • Set a goal of responding to messages at a certain time/by a certain time
  • Try to set/implement stable logon and logoff parameters for yourself

Dr. Liz Pulliam, a psychologist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Dennis Developmental Center, adds - I like to try to reframe this downtime that some families are getting as not a burden, but an opportunity to spend some special time with their kids.

That said, kids and parents can feel the stress of what is currently going on in the environment, and ‘cabin fever’ can add to the stress. Keeping kids busy and spending time together can help take the edge off of the stress, and leave less downtime for boredom that can lead to frustration and misbehavior.

Stress is a normal part of parenting. However, during more challenging times like the ones we are experiencing, a parent may start noticing that they are becoming more frustrated with their children, being less patient, irritable, yelling, or experiencing physical symptoms (headache, stomachache, excessive fatigue).

Taking moments for themselves can help, such as putting the kids to bed early so they can catch their favorite TV show alone, enjoy a late dinner with their partner or friend, going for a drive, or a warm bath while listening to their favorite music. Reaching out to friends or family by phone to talk about their day and have their frustrations heard can help. If a parent feels the stress is becoming too much for them to handle alone, reaching out to a local mental health provider for assistance is an option.

While this time off from school isn’t a good time for parties, trampoline parks, or the movies, families can still have fun and enjoy activities together indoors or outdoors, away from large groups. Going for a walk, a picnic, a hike, a bike ride, or playing a game together in your own yard are all great things to do. Baking, crafting, board games, etc.