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Hello Idaho: How to lessen the stress of parenting during the coronavirus pandemic

"I know that with time we'll get through this. Keeping a good perspective, and keeping your own family's best interests at heart as we move ahead..."

BOISE, Idaho — The struggle to make ends meet and take care of the kids has always been tough, and that was before coronavirus.  Now, between juggling zoom calls, watching the children, overseeing remote learning, just trying to survive. The pandemic has taken parenting to the next level.

Real-life parent guide Kim Muench says it's not just you. The struggle is real and everyone is feeling it.

"How are we going to get to a place where we can get a rhythm or a structure back for our families," Muench said.

So, what is a working parent to do?  

For starters, acknowledge your emotions. It's normal to feel fearful, anxious or stressed now and try to talk about it with friends and family, and maybe share a good laugh about it.

Parents should make sure to set boundaries between home and work life. Boundaries blur when work and home life are in the same place.

Try setting a timer for an hour or so and tell your children you'll spend 15 minutes doing something fun with them when the buzzer goes off. When children know the plan, they're less likely to interrupt your work. Also, thank your child for allowing you to do your work and model how to work productively.

Muench added that parents should try talking with their boss. Explain your situation. For employers, make sure you listen and work together to craft a plan that works for both of you.

"Allowing employees to be honest. And then listening to those employees are saying. This is unprecedented times that we're in and therefore the employer who's not going to listen is going to potentially lose a really good employee.  I think there needs to be grace on everybody's part right now so we can do the best to get through this situation at hand," Muench said.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself is to practice self-compassion. Don't worry if you can't concentrate or let the housekeeping standards slide. During this stressful time, it's important to go easy on your children and yourself.

Muench recommends a positive attitude and the old adage, take things one day at a time.

"I know that with time we'll get through this. Keeping a good perspective, and keeping your own family's best interests at heart as we move ahead, that's what I wish," Muench said.

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