Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

What to Tell Your Kids When You’re a Front-Line Worker

You are an essential healthcare worker. Your services are valued now more than ever during a global pandemic. While many other employees have been given the option of working at home, you have no choice. Patients of all ages need your personalized attention. You chose your work as a calling. That doesn’t make it any easier to leave your children at the beginning of every shift. Take some advice on how to explain what it means to be essential.

Help Your Children to Understand Why People Need You

Every time you put on your men’s scrubs, you are slipping into clothing that is durable, comfortable and shows others you work in the healthcare field. Tell your kids it’s like putting on a superhero’s cape. People who are ill, have been injured, or who face various health challenges can’t face their battles alone. You have the education, experience, and skills to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need. Your children need to know how hard you worked to be able to do a job that you love. They also need to know that the sacrifices all of you make, including your family, are worth it if your patients get to go home to their families because of you.

Let Your Family Know Your Schedule May Change Often

In the past, you may have had a regular schedule as an essential worker. The pandemic has placed an additional strain on healthcare employees everywhere. Shifts are growing longer because there is such a high demand for nurses and doctors. Days off may be far and few between. Sit down with your family to discuss why these changes are happening. Make sure your children understand that you don’t want to miss out on family time, but you don’t have a choice right now. Reassure them that you will have more time with them once the health crisis settles down.

Give Your Children a Support System

Let your kids know that they will not be left without supervision. If your wife is working, you will make other arrangements. Friends, neighbors and other family members may be able to help you. You can also enlist the aid of a babysitter. Your children need to know that they are not being abandoned while you are at work.

Connect with Your Children as Often as Possible

Give your kids a way to stay in touch while you are working long hours. It might be a voicemail or a text. Texting is a great way to check in often when you have a breather. Get on a video chat so your children can see your face. When you arrive at work or you are on your way home, make a point of calling home to touch base one more time. Don’t forget the lost art of letter writing. Your kids will appreciate doodles and notes that show you care. It’s about the personal touches.

Show Them Family Time is Precious

When you do have time off, don’t let anything get in the way. Spending time with your children needs to go to the top of the list. Laundry, paying bills, or simple repairs can wait until they go to bed or they are visiting a friend. It might be inconvenient for you. You may lose some sleep. In the end, you’ll know those moments with your family will always be cherished.

Ask Your Children to Help You

Your children need to understand that this is a difficult time for you too. You miss them. You are working long hours for many days at a time. You are tired. Their smiles, hugs, and kisses can make a difference for you. Give them simple chores that can keep your household in order. Tell them how essential they are to you.

Being on the front-line means taking on healthcare battles every time you step on the floor. You are going to be under a great deal of stress. You can make your job a little easier when your children have a clear understanding of what you do. Keep the lines of communication open. Answer their questions. Tell them about your days and nights at work without frightening them. Help your children to understand that you matter as much to others as you do to them.

Tim Esterdahl

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Integrated Family Community Services is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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