The whole world has been living through this pandemic for over a year, but nothing about the future is certain yet. Any parent working from home under present circumstances should pat themselves on the back since there isn’t a definite guide for parenting through COVID-19 and how to navigate unconventional situations like this. Some may breeze through a workday and being a parent, while others may find it a little tougher to get through a day.
Whether you’ve mastered the art of working from home or are still trying to find your work-from-home groove, here are some ways you can balance both parenting and working from home.
At the start of the day, list down tasks that you need to accomplish within the day and tasks that you’d like to do if you have spare time. Be realistic and set goals for yourself and ask others in the household to do the same as well. Talk about what you and your partner need to accomplish within the day both for work and for the household, but also ask your kids what they’d like to do for the day as well. This can be your form of a team huddle at the start of the day to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Have a schedule
Besides having your schedule on your calendar for work, have a physical schedule posted or written out for your kids too. Use a whiteboard or a chart that everyone in the household can look at to see everyone’s activities for the day. You can post your work schedule beside your kids’ and have them understand that while you have tasks to accomplish for work, they have their activities to do as well. Plot your meetings for the day so kids will know not to be too loud at a certain time, or use this time to schedule virtual classes or activities for them to keep them busy while you work. You can also plot a nap time or quiet time for the kids and take advantage of it to get more demanding tasks at work done.
Designate a workspace
While some may find it easy to work anywhere in the house, others may like to have a dedicated workspace to better get things done. You can designate a workspace for yourself and designate a workspace for your kids as well that reinforces the schedule you’ve set both for you and them. Having a designated workspace reduces distractions, helps with productivity, and for some, helps create a boundary between work life and home life.
Get kids involved
Prepare healthy food for meals and snack time
Help them prepare materials needed for their activities, simple house chores like keeping toys and books, setting the table for meals if they’re at an age that can manage
Set aside special toys or activities kids can do only while you’re working
Prepare for interruptions
While you may have a schedule set for the day, things may not always go according to plan. Kids may get bored or fussy, or you might be in a meeting when someone starts crying. For times like these, you can use the mute button and have a nonverbal signal you and your kids can use when you’re in a call or meeting so they would know not to interrupt or be too loud. You can also have space in your workspace where your kids can “work” as well while you’re busy.
Keep in touch with your co-workers
Working from home shouldn’t mean not being able to spend time with colleagues too. Virtual coffee breaks may not be the same as in-person ones, but these will have to do in the meantime. Take time to ask how your officemates are doing; you may all be working from home but not everyone may have the same work-from-home experience. Reach out to fellow parents and ask how they’re managing work and being a parent, exchange best practices, and maybe set up virtual playdates for your kids.
Spending time to connect or reconnect with colleagues may also reinforce a healthy working relationship even through a virtual workspace.
Take a break
Remember to take time off from work and your kids’ schedules too. Spend quality time with your kids because though you all may be spending time at home, you all have your activities throughout the day. Plan a no chores day, a movie night with sweet treats for kids ready, or a day outdoors to take a breather from your routine. Taking time off from work-related tasks can reduce the risk of burnout and can leave you refreshed and ready to face new tasks.
There isn’t a manual on how to be a parent in a pandemic. Managing your job, the household, and caring for your kids may not have been easy before the pandemic, and could be a bit tougher now too; but you need to understand that if it’s new to you, it’s new to your kids too. Both you and your kids may be overwhelmed since both your worlds have been turned upside down, but a challenge like this can also be seen as a learning opportunity. Getting through working and parenting from this unconventional circumstance can bring your family closer, more resilient, and adaptive to change.
About The Author:
Kat is a Molecular Biology Scientist turned Growth Marketing Scientist. During her free time, she loves to write articles that will bring delight, empower women, and spark the business mind. She loves to bake but unfortunately, baking doesn't love her back. She has many things in her arsenal and writing is one of her passion projects.
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