Working From Home With Children – Tips on How to Cope
Being a working parent was never easy, but the last few weeks have brought this challenge to a new level. As we are all working from home, parents have to stay professional and focused while kids are hijacking conference calls across the world.
“Hello, mummy’s friend” – my daughter told one of my colleagues the other day – “I’m a unicorn.”
And while this is aww, so cute the first time it happens, it becomes slightly irritating for parents as the new reality of working from home settles in.
So here’s some advice (and comfort) to all the hard-working parents out there.
1. It’s not just you – it’s everybody
Feeling a bit embarrassed when your kids jump in during an especially important conference call? Well, millions of kids around the world did the same this week. And almost no one expects you to demonstrate the same professionalism as you would while on a non-virtual meeting in your office. By the end of the day, if the job is done, that’s a good thing.
2. Give yourself a break
Uncertain times are scary and we try to control everything we can. Yes, structuring our days is important and a lot of people have set up tight schedules for themselves and kids.
- 7:47 – breakfast
- 09:01- English and Maths
- 10:52 -PE
- 12:12 – Lunch
- 21 – creative time, then digital time, life skills. etc.
But the fact is, that our normal routines are broken, and it takes up to 21 days for a person to settle into a new routine.
So rather than worrying about not following your newly designed timetable, maybe give yourself a break. Even though a good, healthy routine is very helpful, remember that adaptability is one of the keys features us humans have. Adapt to each day, keep a loose schedule to guide you, but also don’t place any more restrictions on our already very restricted lives. If the kids are better at PE at 11:46 than 10:52, that’s not the end of the world.
3. Realistic expectations are important
Yes, you might feel like staying at home is a waste of life and time. So you set yourself goals and expectations. We have all seen these on social media these last couple of days – lists of books to read, virtual museums to visit, language crash courses we can do, cooking videos and so on and so on. While the fact is that as a working parent you will probably have very little time to do any of those things. And your kids will have very little time to turn into little prodigies in these three months.
Kids need to play, playing is good and it helps them imitate real life, it helps their creativity, it teaches creative problem solving, makes them happier and smarter. Let them play, instead of forcing them into crafting a paper animal because everyone else is sharing their kids’ masterpiece on social media.
4. Take the guilt away
Accept the fact that your kids will watch TV while you work. Yes, maybe you like to have strict screen time rules (like myself) but it is okay to break some of these rules for these unprecedented times. Don’t feel guilty for working. If you still have work to do then you and your family are the lucky ones.
You are not ignoring children or your partner, but instead making sure you will all have some food on the table and a roof over your heads (and maybe you can even afford some toilet roll!) Being stuck at home makes it easier to have working parent’s guilt. So stop it. Now.
To sum it up, I have no recipe on how to cope. I am learning as I go. I get frustrated and tired and want to be back in the office. But so does everyone as we are still adapting to this new way of life. This shall pass too, and it will pass very soon. Yes, 12-16 weeks seems like a lifetime now, but it is not in the grand scheme of things.
This will soon be over, things will go back to normal sooner than we now think. And hopefully, we will draw some conclusions and become just a tiny bit wiser.
Extra tip: And remember, you can always make a maze with your child using all those loo roll tubes.
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