Parenting as an Essential Worker

Ideas to ease the whole family’s experience when a parent is working in an essential role.

If you or other household members are essential workers, the whole family can be proud, and this pride can create a sense of meaning and purpose for everyone. Of course, your position presents its own unique challenges. These ideas may help ease everyone’s experience.

The Same, But Different

When a family member’s job keeps them at higher risk, you may all have to still be extra careful now, even as physical distancing eases in parts of the country. That might leave you all feeling extra isolated as time goes on.

Your job—and your child’s experience of you coming and going—might also look and feel very different from week to week, and that can cause even more worry, uncertainty, or anxiety for the whole household. Children may be confused and anxious that everyday routines are still changing and even if they’re getting to spend more time outside, you’re all still constantly adjusting to new ways of doing things, which can be tiring.

You can explain to children that, just like when this all started, you are trained to do your job and that you and your co-workers know how to keep staying safe. Explain that your team is talking about any new rules together, and you’re helping each other get used to them.

The Family Team

Talk with children that just as you’re part of a team at work, everyone in the family has their own important job too. That means you’ll all keep doing the same things to stay healthy, like handwashing, keeping distance from others, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy food. It’s also good for children to help out with certain household chores—they’ll gain a sense of responsibility, and they’ll be helping you continue to concentrate on doing your job safely. You can also remind children that no matter what is changing or staying the same, or how long this goes on, your family is not alone; neighbors, friends, and other family members want to help.

Even after they’re grown, your children will remember how you were brave, calm, and reassuring through all the challenges and changes! You can help your family build a foundation of strength and resilience that can last a lifetime.