Coronavirus has had a massive impact on our everyday lives, both in and out of work. This has created a slightly bigger challenge for working parents, with schools and nurseries closed indefinitely, and private childcare no longer allowable within the home, they now have to balance working from home, keeping the kids entertained and somehow managing to stay sane!
R13 have compiled our top tips, from our very own working parents, on how you can (try to!!) manage both your professional and personal responsibilities.
It is important to be upfront and honest with your boss about how you are going to be able to work. If you are on parent duty, then it may not be realistic to get all your work done during regular business hours, so be realistic in what you can achieve and when, this may mean starting while the kids are in bed or working in the evening instead. Likewise, it may mean you need to work reduced hours with reduced responsibilities. Be open and honest with your employer – they may be able to offer you this opportunity, or the opportunity to utilise some annual leave to allow you to do your bit at home to share the parental responsibility load. Likewise, they may be able to alter your duties to align them with your availability.
Clearly communicating your needs to your boss and your team will make your life less stressful as you won’t be rushing to meet certain expectations and you’ll find that the large majority of the people you work with will understand or be in similar situations themselves.
Find a space in your house that can be a dedicated office area (even if it’s only for the hours you are working!). Somewhere you can tuck yourself away from your family to focus in on work. Having a dedicated area where you can work at ease with minimal distractions and where the family knows it’s “work time”. Ruth (one of R13 Directors) says ‘I have set up camp in our bedroom, I have my work desk & chair so feels normal, but also allows my 3.5 year old to understand when I’m sitting there mummy is working (this only partially works!). It’s tricky working from home as my kids seem to have homing beacon system and can sniff me out if I am in the house somewhere, we have just had to adapt... and I am pretty good at hiding!’
Once you’ve established clear expectations for what you can achieve, then begin to set specific goals and objectives. Make it a routine to stay in contact with the rest of your team, share when you have positive news, talk about issues you’re having with the team and share ideas around how to cope.
Give yourself set hours for working that fit around your parenting schedule. Once you’ve finished for the day, remove yourself from your working environment (even if that means clearing away your laptop and phone from the kitchen table!), sit down with your loved ones, eat dinner together as a family and have some FUN!
Bex (one of R13’s Directors) says ‘It’s been tough trying to create a balance between my work, my husbands work and managing the needs of a demanding toddler who clearly understands they are the centre of the universe and the world revolves around! We’ve come up with a schedule which allows us both to get out hours in and deliver on what we need to do. This does come with it’s sacrifices in terms of grown up down time, but does mean we are getting to spend some dedicated quality time educating and having fun with our rambunctious toddler. Time we would not ordinarily have had and will never get again.’
Also, set a routine for your little ones, this will help them to stay occupied and manage any anxiety caused by this change to their lives. Incorporate some ‘learning’ time into their day to help keep their minds busy and engaged. If you need any help with this there are plenty of free resources online. Here are some of our favourites:
Working around kids requires a certain degree of flexibility. R13’s Luke says “My advice about working from home with little ones in the house, is be patient and flexible. Children want their parent’s attention, so when my daughter comes to say hi or when my son works out that I’m upstairs and wants to write some emails, let them! Enjoy having them around you, this should be an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones too.”
R13’s Bex says ‘The number of people I’ve spoken to who are in the same situation and will gladly share their own experiences/ideas with you has been heart-warming. The people who have laughed when my toddler comes in to tell me he’s had a poo when I’ve been on a video call. The people who have shown endless patience when I’m chatting to them whilst also pushing a teeny tiny trolley round the garden, and intermittently discussing the finer points of bumblebees and butterflies at the demands of my tiny dictator – massively appreciated. People get to see the real you, the you that they may never otherwise see when you’re in work mode. I’ve had nothing but positivity and people relating. You are a person with a life outside of work, so are they, and sharing those experiences is an awesome opportunity!’.
It is important to seek out the positives in each day, this could be going for a family walk with the dog or baking some treats. This will have a massive impact on your mental wellbeing. Remember this isn’t going to last forever but the memories of having the whole family at home will be there forever!
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