How to work and take care of your kids during quarantine
As restrictions have increased to slow the spread of coronavirus, offices as well as childcare centres have closed. For the past several weeks, parents have been attempting to work from home. This means parents are trying to do the impossible: combine the two roles of parent and employee. Both are important. But it feels like we can only do one of them well at a time.
These tips will help you navigate this tricky time.
Take a Reality Reset
You will want to be radically realistic about what you can really achieve with your child around. Expect your productivity to be reduced. Try these ideas:
1. Talk with your boss about what is realistic. Perhaps you can work in shifts, with some tasks completed during the day, and others done later in the evening.
2. If you have a spouse/partner, discuss how you can support one another. Can one of you be with the children during the morning, both of you work during nap time, and then the other work through the afternoon or evening?
Set up Your Space
If you have a room for it, create an office space that allows you to minimise disruption and distraction. It is best to not work at the dining table in full view of your child as disruptions can occur. And ideally you won’t be working in full view of the fridge, messy counter-top, clothing pile, etc. If possible, create a quiet hook and work there. Bonus tip: when on the phone or online meetings, use mute liberally. You will experience interruptions. We have all become the BBC guy (if you haven’t seen it).
Shift from a “Schedule” to a Priorities List
Children require supervision. And they want connection. They want to be in our arms. They want to play games, hear stories, and sing songs. Further to this, children may not understand boundaries. They don’t care if our boss is on a Zoom call with us. When they want us, that’s all there is to it.
So, don’t create a schedule. It will fall apart in the first hour.
1. Clarify your priorities for the day. Who needs calls, emails, or reports? What deadlines do you have?
2. Identify how much time those priorities will take.
3. Focus on spreading those total hours across the day in a flexible way.
Focus on Flexibility
Remember, children take naps. These will be your most productive times. Fir parents of toddlers, don’t expect to get a lot of concentrated time before that afternoon nap around 1:30pm.
1. Work in short sprints. If your little one is satisfied on the activity mat or with a toy, race into those short tasks. Fire off some emails. Make a quick call.
2. Tag team with your partner for caring duties.
3. Work early mornings and evenings while the kids are asleep.
You are juggling two consuming roles. So, work when you can, because you have to. But, make sure that you:
1. Check back with your child regularly. These consistent touchpoints help your child feel connected and secure.
2. Make those connections meaningful. Do something fun. Be active together. (You might wear them out!)
3. Make those connections stimulating (with toys and games) for your child when appropriate, and soothing when they need calm and gentle attention. Go slow enough to really read your child’s emotional state and respond accordingly.
Playing the role of full-time worker and full-time parent is genuinely unrealistic. We cannot do two things that require our full attention at the same time. So, remember; it will all fall apart from time to time. Maybe every day. Lower your expectations. Be flexible. Be kind to yourself – and your child.