HOUSTON – On Friday, Texas started to loosen up its stay-at-home restrictions, which means more working parents will soon be going back to work.
But that brings about a new set of challenges for families with kids.
Rania Mankarious, executive director with Crime Stoppers of Houston, shares tips to help working parents and their families adjust.
“Employees are nervous to just all of the sudden pick up and go back to work. But beyond that, if you have kids, summer activity, we’re not officially in summer activity, they’re supposed to be at school all day. You can’t bring them to work and it’s scary to leave them home, so there’s a lot of really important conversations you need to be having with a multitude of people, starting with your employer,” said Mankarious.
If you’re lucky enough to have someone like a nanny or daycare to watch your kids while you’re at work, it’s a good idea to ask health and sanitation related questions after the COVID-19 crisis.
“Like, how many people are in your home? What other people are you exposed to? How are you tested? Are you going to be testing a nanny every morning when they walk in your door? It’s really complicated,” she said.
Here are some of Mankarious’s tips for working parents.
1. COMMUNICATE OPENLY WITH YOUR EMPLOYER
“Some parents will have to adjust their schedule due to childcare needs. Ask your employer how it will handle contact tracing, if they will let you know if someone you had contact with at work has COVID-19. And the same questions apply to a daycare center,” said Mankarious.
2. DETERMINE WHO WILL CARE FOR YOUR CHILD WHILE YOU ARE AT WORK
“Vet any nanny service or day care facility just like you would normally. Make sure the daycare has both regular safety protocols as well as specific safety protocols for COVID-19,” said Mankarious.
3. IF YOUR CHILD IS OLD ENOUGH TO STAY HOME ALONE, MAKE SURE YOU SET EXPECTATIONS AND SET SAFETY PLANS
“Make sure they know how to call you or other family members, make sure you have an emergency plan in place and verify they have things like food, water, snacks easily accessible. Also, remind them to never open the door to strangers,” said Mankarious.
4. TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND CHANGE WITH YOUR CHILD
“Be aware of changes in behavior that could be signs of distress or mental illness,” said Mankarious.
5. MAKE SURE SCHOOL-AGED KIDS KNOW HOW TO CONTINUE THEIR ONLINE LEARNING
“And include cyber safety rules. How do your kids navigate online? What websites are they allowed to go on and not go on? What are the rules if they get an inappropriate message? Do they know what to do with all of it?,” said Mankarious.
6. IF KIDS STAY ALONE, TAKE THESE PRECAUTIONS:
• Make sure medicines or hazardous items are locked or put away.
• Make sure guns are stored properly.
• If there is a pool, make sure kids know how to swim or that they don't swim while you are gone.
• Have rules set up on who can come over and what outdoor activities they can do.
To see Mankarious complete interview, watch the video above.