KC Wellness Wednesday

College psychologist, Mrs Teresa Yell has a message to share with us for #WELLNESSWEDNESDAY today on coping with the juggling act of quarantine

We have always played multiple roles… we are all someone’s mother, daughter, friend, confidante, guide, father, brother son and so on and so forth. The point is before lockdown these roles may have seemed more clearly defined. We got to play each role at different times with breaks in between, making tranisioning from one to the other a tad easier. Now you are confined in terms of space, to very specific areas where you play multiple roles each day having to change sometimes without warning. You may find you feel you need to go from mother, to teacher to employee/employer, cook, cleaner, wife, husband, doctor/nurse etc in a flash, which may leave your head and emotions spinning.

The trouble with this is not necessarily linked to the number of roles we play, but perhaps to our inherent need to play each one perfectly. Given that each role has a specific set of responsibilities each role will then also compete for our attention and we may find ourselves in a win-lose situation. This need for perfection isn’t healthy for anyone of us and can so easily lead to fatigue, increased stress levels and even burn out.

I recently read that “The trick to juggling is determining which balls are made of rubber and which ones are made of glass”

So how can we do this…

  • I hate to sound clichéd, but time management immediately comes to mind. Literally count the hours you have each day and determine, in as much as you can, how many you require for each role.
  • Christine Riordan, a Professor of Management, Leadership and Diversity at the University of Kentucky suggests we prioritize roles. She suggests we look at the value we assign to each role in order to help us make conscious and well thought out decisions about which roles take priority. Trade-offs she says are inevitable.
  • Once this list is drawn up, we can now assign activities to each role. You do this by considering the behaviours each role requires. We are all too familiar with the age old tug of war between career and parenting – so simply put: if in career role answer emails, take calls, attend meetings etc…If, however, in parent role, avoid these activities and focus on being a parent.
  • Communication with all role players in the family / household is also important. Once you have determined a schedule, let others know what role you intend to assume, when you intend to assume it and what you require of them. So if it is one of teacher – move to the space in your home assigned to this and go through the set tasks. Remember to communicate with teaching staff – they value your feedback. Let them know how you are managing the workload and what time constraints you may have. They, in turn, can guide you as to how much time it should take for you and your child to complete a task.
  • Please do not place pressure on yourselves to perform all roles at 100%. Do the best you can in the circumstances remembering to take frequent breaks, deep breaths and even walk away if you feel overwhelmed.
  • Share responsibilities. If you are a two-adult-household, rope in your partner to parent/ teach, engage in caregiving, cooking, cleaning roles. Children can also do chores and older siblings can help younger siblings where possible, with schoolwork too. If you are in a single-adult- household don’t be afraid to phone/ zoom a friend, teacher, make use of Google etc.
  • Something has “gotta” give – housework can wait!
  • Flexibility – if systems crash (this may be you or the network), remember there is always tomorrow.
  • Rest when you can and get a good night’s sleep.

“You can only work with what you have today. Yesterday you may have been able to do more. Tomorrow you might be able to do better. But today, you can only do the best you can for today.”

Take care and stay safe


Ms Teresa Yell is Kingswood College’s Educational Psychologist and has practiced in the field for 15 years. She completed her postgraduate studies at RAU (Rand Afrikaans University) and her undergraduate degree at the UND (University of Natal, Durban). She is mother to two children, a daughter and son. She was the resident psychologist at both Dainfern College and Christ Church College in Johannesburg for nine years and ran a busy private practice from her home. They moved to Makhanda (Grahamstown) in 2016, and live on a small farm outside of town.