Maintaining Family Relationships  |  Supporting Children

The Battle for Dad and Mum’s Attention

15 May 2020  |   5 min read

TOUCH Integrated Family Group (TIFG) conducted a poll survey to understand the concerns and needs of parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some key concerns highlighted by parents include:

  • How to give enough attention to children while working at the same time
  • Use of digital devices to keep children occupied to manage work at home
  • Managing timetable of home-based learning with children
  • Ability to supervise children during home-based learning while managing work

We would like to share some simple and effective strategies to help mitigate such challenges and enable parents and children to better cope during this circuit breaker period.

Strategy 1: Timetable for the whole family

  • Come up with a workable timetable for the family, especially when it comes to accessing limited technology resources such as laptops, video conferencing equipment or even space to do work.
  • Plan for play, work and rest periods for each member of the family. Rest periods will allow for much needed time to recover and recalibrate, mentally and emotionally. It can range from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on individual needs and what works for the family.
  • Parents who are both working can consider taking turns, whenever possible, to attend to work matters while managing their children’s home-based learning.
  • Do remember that the timetable is ultimately just a guide. Don’t let it dictate every moment of the day. Even if you can’t keep to it, relax and enjoy some impromptu moments. Surprises can be refreshing too!

Strategy 2: Zoning

  • For families who live in smaller flats or apartments, it may be helpful to have an indicator or a sign that reads: “Dad/Mum is working now, be with you in XX minutes.”
  • If you have a designated room for work or study, manage expectations by telling your child that a closed door would mean no disturbance. Set time limits for closed-door sessions to about 45 minutes. Have a 30-minute interval before the next closed-door session.
  • Zoning can include a space to calm down or have a timeout during a conflict.

Strategy 3: Play as a family and on your own

  • Set aside time for family fun. Board and role-playing games can break the monotony and introduce some fun and laughter. It is also a good break from screen time for both parents and children, though computer games in moderation can foster family bonding too.
  • Parents can also help their children to play on their own by providing relevant resources to keep them occupied. This goes beyond their home-based learning assignments. Some digital resources available can be found here:

Online Resource

  • BRAINPOP
  • CURIOSITY
  • STREAM
  • TYNKER
  • OUTSCHOOL
  • UDEMY
  • IREADY
  • BEAST ACADEMY (MATH)
  • KHAN ACADEMY
  • CREATIVE BUG
  • DISCOVERY EDUCATION

YouTube Channel

  • CRASH COURSE KIDS
  • SCIENCE CHANNEL
  • SCISHOW KIDS
  • NAT GEO KIDS
  • FREE SCHOOL
  • GEOGRAPHY FOCUS
  • THEBRAINSCOOP
  • SCISHOW
  • KIDS LEARNING TUBE
  • GEEEK GURL DIARIES
  • MIKE LIKE SCIENCE
  • SCIENCE MAX
  • SOULPANCAKE

Strategy 4: Expect conflict, fights, lots of hugs and “I’m sorry”

  • Being in close proximity for extended periods of time will bring about more conflicts than usual. You may lose your temper, shout and reprimand your children at some point. Don’t beat yourself up over it. We are all human.
  • Expect your children to be restless and to argue and fight more than usual among themselves. When such situations take place, get those involved to calm down in their respective safe zones.
  • Speak to all the affected members when they are ready to talk. Encourage them to apologise to each other, hug and get on with the activity of the day.

Strategy 5: Self-care is crucial

Do take time to relax and recalibrate your emotions to protect your mental health. Go for a quick jog or walk (while keeping a safe distance from others). Take turns to have “me-time” and also set aside couple time to talk and reflect on the day’s happening.

We hope these strategies will provide a good starting point on better managing the situation at home. Even as you do your best to fulfil your work and family responsibilities, don’t stress over every detail. Focus on capturing the “now” moments.

Catch that cheeky smile of your child when he tries to sneak up on Daddy; call out to your children and spouse randomly; or mouth or whisper an “I love you”. Praise and affirm your children for doing their part, big or small. A circuit breaker need not stop the flow of love in the family.

It is challenging but you are not without support. If you need help or someone to talk to about your parenting challenges, feel free to write to us at parenting@touch.org.sg.

This article is contributed by TOUCH Integrated Family Group.