Isolation Survival Tips for the Working Parent(s)
Having the kids at home 24/7 was probably something that you weren’t expecting for your 2020 and neither were we. Isolation has presented us with challenges that we’re all trying to navigate, and they can definitely be tough at times! Whether you’ve got a toddler, tweens or teens, you’re bound to have days where you want to lock yourself in the bathroom (I have haha!). Here are some of our tips to help you survive (and maybe even thrive) with the kids at home while you work from home.
Be prepared for interruptions
It’s bound to happen, probably daily. To keep your sanity during this time it’s a good idea to be ready for any sort of interruption that might occur during your workday. By setting your kids up with food, snacks and a plan for the day ahead, you can minimise interruptions. You can also check in with them to make sure they’re going okay throughout the day before they come check on you. But, just remember, interruptions are still likely to happen no matter how prepared you are, even though being prepared limits them. By keeping in mind that you’re going to be interrupted, you can feel a little more ready when it happens.
Last week I was interrupted on Zoom call when I was in a meeting with the Board of Directors of a Client. My toddler Harrison came in pantless telling me he had done a poo in the potty. Luckily, I had already advised all Zoom attendees my toddler at some point could storm in, when it occurred, I simply placed myself on mute – stepped out for a moment and returned to jump back into the conversation. With most of them facing the same challenges, it was understandable and nothing to be embarrassed or anxious about.
Have a stack of activities ready to go
If your child isn’t settling into their activities or schoolwork planned for the day it can make it close to impossible for you to get any work done. By having activities like crafts or toys hidden away and rotated, you can pull something ‘special’ out in more difficult moments. Remember, their whole world has changed, and they may not understand why. It’s okay for them to have days where they struggle to focus on their schoolwork or planned activities. Don’t be afraid to let them have a sleep in or watch a little extra TV on the days that they’re just not feeling it too!
My Hot Tip – Download a platform called Magic Desktop it is a lifesaver for us on these days. An interactive educational, learning platform that can be age specific and allows your child to have independent play. Mine feels excited when he gets to go on his “computer for work like mummy”.
Make a family calendar
I will be honest, when my partner and I made the decision to bring our son home – I was nervous. Nervous if we could juggle two full time and self-employed businesses as well as a very active toddler. The first week was an absolute shamble – no set working hours and just trying to squeeze work in when we could. Something had to change. We set up a family calendar to keep on top of things and stay organised. In the kitchen we had scheduled hours for family time together, individual one-on-one time with Harrison our toddler and individual working time in blocked hours. This schedule was our lifesaver to being able to manage work and an active toddler effectively. Grab a glass of wine and sit down with your partner to put together some type of “ideal” schedule. Work together to develop a routine and if something urgent pops up – communicate your needs and commitments required.
Give your children dedicated parent time
Just 20 minutes of dedicated time with one of your children, doing what they want to do, can make all the difference in their day and yours. By making this time a priority you will reap the rewards as they feel like their cup has been filled with your love and attention. Try this each day and you’re sure to experience less interruptions in your workday and when you do get interrupted, you can remind them of their dedicated mummy or daddy time that will happen soon.
Head outside daily
There’s nothing like a breath of fresh air to feel reenergised and reset, and this is something that your kids may not realise the importance of themselves. Head outside for a walk or bike ride each day so they can let off some steam and let out their excess energy. They’ll feel more positive and so will you!
We hope that by implementing our tips above, life and work at home will feel a little bit more positive and manageable. Remember perfection does not have to exist. My washing has piled up, the house was messy with toys everywhere, I ordered takeout more often – but we are doing the best we can. There’s definitely still going to be days that you struggle through, but remember, we’re all navigating isolation the best we can and it’s going to take some time for us to find our new workday rhythm. You’ve got this!