Sat | Jan 23, 2021

Growth & Jobs |Red Stripe assists employees to balance work, homeschooling

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2020 | 12:08 AM

For many Jamaicans, remote work and homeschooling have become part of the new COVID-19 normal, forcing parents and children to strive for balance and harmony now that they are spending more time at home.

One company helping parents to navigate this new environment is Red Stripe, through its Employee Support Network (ESN), which recently hosted a three-part series dubbed #StandUpForParents.

Delivered as a series of virtual sessions, #StandUpForParents featured trained professionals and other resource persons who shared useful information to help parents cope.

“Under normal circumstances, being a parent and holding down a full-time job is challenging, let alone now that COVID-19 has forced us to abandon routines. The pandemic has also had an impact on the support parent would usually receive from family, friends, and neighbours. As a business, we recognised that parents on the team needed a hand. #StandUpForParents provided a space to interact with parents who are going through the same struggles and facilitate solutions through collaboration. We wanted to help them deal with the stress of this new normal as best as possible,” said Stacy-Ann Smith, Red Stripe’s brand and corporate public relations manager and host of the sessions.

The knowledge-sharing sessions were structured to cater specifically to the needs of employees who have children of a particular age. The first session, hosted on October 12, targeted children at the early childhood level up to the age of seven while the second session, hosted on October 14, dealt mainly with primary school children from ages eight to 12. The final session on October 21 focused on how to navigate issues that arise with teenagers 13 years and older.

KEEP CLOSE TO TEACHERS

“It’s been a challenge for parents no matter the age of their children. For the students doing PEP or getting ready for external exams like CSEC and CAPE, parents need to stay close to what’s happening at school. Get to know your child’s teachers, now more than ever before. Connect via email or even Whatsapp. Ensure that they know how to reach you if they need to. Let them know you are available if your children are not focused or struggling in any way,” advised Mitsie Harris Dillon, interim president of the National Parent-Teachers Association.

Managing stress was one of the focal points of the initiative in response to parents who confessed to feeling overwhelmed by having to take on day-to-day responsibility for their children’s education. One participant expressed concern about the impact on their mental health as they to try to strike a balance between working and ensuring that their children are getting the best education possible during this unprecedented time. The mental impact on their children is also of concern. “As parents, we also need to be mindful that it’s a scary time for the kids. My daughter is seven years old and she started having nightmares. So since March up until this month, she has been sleeping with us. She just started sleeping in her own room again. So it’s a lot for them to deal with as well,” said Anjelica Holmes, key account manager at Red Stripe.

Presenters, who included a counselling psychologist from Family Life Ministries, gave recommendations and encouraged parents to keep in constant communication with teachers and school administrators. Question and answer segments at the end of each session gave participants an opportunity to express specific concerns and share their unique situations. “By all accounts, #StandUpForParents succeeded in creating a support group for parents to share and get feedback and benefit from ideas delivered by trained experts. It’s part of the commitment we make to support our employees, staying true to Red Stripe’s employer brand and caring for our people so they can focus on what matters most,” said Smith.