Long school holidays or pandemic, parents mostly mothers are the ones who are going to suffer. And when it comes to work-from-home-moms it’s a hectic challenge. As a result of the Coronavirus/Covid19 outbreak, schools in many countries including the US, UK, India, etc. have closed classes and some have started e-classes.
For millions of parents around the globe who have been asked to work remotely, this means extra hurdles when striving to balance the demands of work and home life while coronavirus continues to be a matter of concern. And we do not know how long this is going to continue!
Many first-time work-from-home employees expected a great experience that they will have a lot of time with their family and work also can be done smoothly and so. But the reality of working remotely every single day alongside your kids will be disastrous for a lot of people, I know that. But the issue can be tackled if you plan well. A solid plan is important to get you going as you are not leaving the house due to the home quarantine condition existing now.
I’ve been working from home for some time now, I have kids who are so demanding all the time and there is a lot of home chores under my responsibility. My work-home-life is going balanced as I still set to my workspace at home on time in the morning. Still, every day and every hour is a new challenge. Kids are bored more than ever as they are not allowed to go outside. We know how many options there are if it was a normal summer vacation now. But even for an abnormal one, we should be prepared and active.
Below are a few simple tips for implementing an effective work-from-home set-up with your kids.
1. Ensure A Strict Schedule Every Day
The thing with this kind of routine is you have to do and finish your home chores, attend and take care of kids and any other dependents if any and then you have to do and finish the Office work. To make it all work under the same roof, you should make your own rules. What I am going to suggest here is an outline that is going to be helpful to you. But you have to customize yours according to your house’s needs. We all have kids of different ages, our family environments are different and so their requirement is also different. When older kids may be busy with their studies or technology or books that may not interfere with your work much, younger kids will be hungry all the time, other than the three-times-a-day meals they will need three or four snack times also. They will be super bored, they do not have a routine so they wake up late, sleep late, no nap and we should consider the fights between the siblings too.
Nothing will be perfect, you should expect chaos even though you did all the efforts. But to make things a little more peaceful and long-running we have to establish certain rules and routines.
As you are having a regular workday you should wake up early. Finish your home chores and cooking responsibilities before kids wake up if possible. Hope your partner helps. Most likely your partner/spouse will also be at home working or not. Communicate the situation to him, instead of making an extra requirement list, ask him to be helpful to survive.
Make sure you are taking enough nutrition and exercise. Before children are in full energy in the morning try to eat your breakfast and cook the lunch and arrange the mid-time snacks in advance.
If your kids wake up so late you will still have time to log in to your work and do some.
2. Communicate, Communicate And Communicate
As I said in the previous paragraph, communication is important when you are closely packed/locked in one space. Talk to the people at home, kids and co-workers. It will be helpful to create a common spreadsheet with your manager and the team members, where you each write your emergency contact information and time available for virtual meetings. You should come up with ideas that work best for everyone.
3. Familiarize ‘Do Not Interfere Time’ To Your Kids
Let your children and family members know how busy you are at work and how important it is. Also, tell them the timings of your meetings and conferences so that they stay away from your work area. It’s essential to set limits with your kids when working remotely, particularly if they’re school-aged.
I let my kids watch TV, play video games and do something (knowledgeable) on laptops, etc. And I strictly mention that these timings are because of the vacation mode (a special kind of vacation, of course). This keeps kids occupied during my peak working hours. You need to tell your kids that this is special, and this choice won’t go on forever.
Some parents place a notice on the doors or outside their working area saying ‘do not disturb’. Tell kids when they can come in, like if they have something really urgent or any dangerous situation going on. Otherwise, let them manage their tiny little needs. Make sure your space is childproof, even grown-up kids make mistakes, for instance, keep your balcony doors locked, check if any sharp items or tools are left around in the room, etc. Above all, I still suggest even though you are closed in a workspace you should be able to hear their voices and know what’s going around.
4. Enroll School Going Kids For Extra-Curricular e-Classes
Creative, informative or Sports, there are a lot of e-classes available online these days. Make sure its authenticity and quality and enroll your kids. Supervise them in the first few classes or you can do your work sitting beside them. My 10-year old son is having an abacus e-class thrice a week for one hour. It’s kind of a blessing, the rest of the days he spends some time doing its home works also. This makes him feel like he has something to do other than total freedom. Total freedom may make their boredom more undefendable.
5. Plan No-Supervision Games and Activities
Kids of different ages need different kinds of games and activities. While babies will give you a break during nap times, you can depend on swings and bouncy chairs when they are awake. Create activity boxes with surprises that contain games and puzzles that require least adult supervision for toddlers and school-aged kids. Make sure the technology time and shows are also age-appropriate and no-PG ones.
6. Your Breaks Are Their Breaks Too
You may have a tendency to work without much breaks to prove yourself to your teams OR sometimes to take more breaks than required. Both are not good.
Kids are bored all the time, they will need more snack breaks than usual. Hunger makes them fussier. Whatever happens however busy you are they need your attention. So before they make it a tantrum give them your attention. If you sync your timing with that of your kids, you can feed them something healthy, you can refresh them with new ideas of games and you may solve a quarrel between the siblings!
There is no need to feel guilty for taking breaks when you are doing work-from-home because just think how many breaks you take while you are at the office. Washroom breaks, bottle-filling breaks, small talk breaks, meal and snack breaks and so on. Just make sure you too get some me-times during this break. While taking this time to unplug and reset you may inform your teammates if required so that they will not ping you.
7. Substitute Shifts With Your Partner
If you’re in a position where both you and your spouse are working from home, substituting shifts with your partner can make working remotely a lot easier. In a patriarchal society, its easier said than done I know. But you will have to convince the need to support in these hard times. For instance, if you are cooking ask him to feed kids and then do the cleaning together afterward.
Switching shifts may not be an option to all, if the husband is working outside or if you are a single mother then planning needs to be done accordingly.
I know exactly how difficult these times are for mothers. You might be feeling like lost, stressed, anxious or depressed. Talk to your friends or anyone you trust about it. I suggest talking to women friends who are going through similar experiences so that you will know that you are not alone. Do not worry its just a passing cloud.
Actually, we all are blessed, we have a home to stay inside, kids to love and cuddle, a work to hang on. There are millions of people who do not have any of these and who are not safe. So be thankful for your blessings and do extend your help whenever and to whoever possible. Stay home Stay safe during this Corona/Covid19 season.
Ayoti recognizes the blessed being called women, we know how much you endeavour in this life and we know how much potential you all possess. We are here with a lot of opportunities and empowerment plans for you!