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Doing Double Duty: Cleveland Clinic Children's pediatric psychologist gives advice for parents one year into pandemic

3News Meteorologist Matt Wintz knows what ‘Doing Double Duty’ looks like firsthand!

CLEVELAND — WKYC Studios is launching a new series called ‘Doing Double Duty,’ aimed to help parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and others who continue juggling so much during this pandemic – even one year into it.

Parents are still grappling with working from home, remote learning with their kids, and overall, all the ‘family togetherness.’

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, this pandemic has changed what normal family life looks like, and the juggling is just going to get more complicated as we transition back to whatever our 'new normal' looks like. 

3News Meteorologist Matt Wintz knows what ‘Doing Double Duty’ looks like firsthand, as he hasn’t been back to the WKYC Studios since March of 2020 when he was told to pack up and report the weather from home. A dad of three young kids, Matt juggles helping his kids learn, grow, and still finds time to have fun while his wife also works from home. It’s a full house. 

Recently, Matt spoke to Pediatric Psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's, Dr. Kate Eshleman, about how to handle the ongoing challenges. Matt’s main takeaways from the conversation are that parents are still going through a lot of change, and our kids are too. 

“All of the things we are recommending for the kids, are important for the parents too,” says Dr. Eshleman.

Working from home has been great for some, but for others, it’s been more like a chore.

"We've been locked up and we've heard the tips. Obviously, when we first started, this was all new to us,” Matt says. “What kinds of things do you think parents are dealing with most now that they could easily correct with some kind of routine change or mental shift?"

According to Dr. Eshleman, the thought that parents can easily correct something may not be an appropriate goal.

“I mean we are almost a year into this, and I think everyone is having increased fatigue,” says Dr. Eshleman.

As parents, we still need to care for ourselves to best interact with our kids, and that can be challenging. We've all had rough days, but Dr. Eshleman says to keep this in mind:

"If your child is having a particularly difficult day, it's easy for us to get increasingly frustrated, and vice versa. So, just paying attention to those interactions and trying to limit the frustrated interactions when possible,” Dr. Eshleman says.

One of the biggest challenges is explaining to young kids that just because you're home, doesn't mean you're available.

“I do think there’s a bit of a challenge, for kids too, with having a parent in the household and the expectation that the parent is there to play with them, or is available for them, and that's not always the case,” says Dr. Eshleman. “So that's a hard adjustment for kids to kind of sort that out, that like 'they're home, but they can't play with me', and trying to figure out what those interactions can look like when everyone's together but can't be together."

Matt says Dr. Eshleman is right on that, because when his wife is working, their daughter, Emmy, will say 'daddy can you play with me?’ and Matt has to say, 'no I’m working' and is very conscious how he says that, almost feeling bad about it, but adds ‘it's the way it is now.’

Dr. Eshleman says to hang in there and reach out for help if you need to.

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