COVID-19 has been a game-changer for businesses across the country. With all but key workers now essentially working from home there has been a huge shift in daily life for many people. This is something that many parents have found particularly challenging. With schools closed and most children at home, how do you balance the responsibilities of your job with the need to manage homeschooling and parenting – and is it possible to get anything done?
Give yourself time
If the shock of the current situation is still sinking in then give yourself time to adjust. The first few weeks of any transition with children is always the hardest and it’s okay if you’re not still hitting weekly targets and being super organised at work as well as meeting all your parenting goals. This is an unprecedented situation and most employers will allow time for adjustment.
Take a new approach to getting things done
The reality for most parents is that you’re just not going to get as much done as you did before this situation arose. So, take a new approach and focus on the priority tasks instead. At the start of each day take the time to identify what these are and don’t waste time on documents, phone calls or expectations that aren’t really necessary. Be flexible and accept that there’s a lot that is out of your control right now – be patient and change your expectations of what an average day should look like.
Reach out and make the most of resources
If you feel like you’re not coping then this is an anxiety that will be quickly passed on to your children. So, the more support networks you can plug into the better. This might be ensuring that you stay in touch with your own supervisor, ask for flexibility with your hours or take any counselling or support resources that your workplace is offering. It might be looking out for support from your child’s school, whether that’s online classes or guidance counselling for your kids over the phone. There are lots of resources out there right now if you’re ready to look for them.
Create a framework for every day
Children need routine and having a schedule can ensure that your days don’t descend into total chaos. A good morning routine is essential – getting up, getting dressed and having breakfast – and make sure that your child is ready during any times of the day when there are resources being made available online by the school. Schedule all priority and learning tasks for the morning where your kids are concerned, when concentration is highest, and if you’re at home with a co-parent work out the hours when each of you is handling childcare or work.
Have some ‘me’ time every day
Wake up earlier so that you have time for a quiet coffee or carve out an hour when everyone has gone to bed to do something that’s good for you, such as reading, meditation or yoga. Alternate during the day between the time when your kids have your full attention and activities that will free you up to go and work. Those activities could be naps or educational games for younger children, for example, or reading or writing stories or taking part in online lessons for those who are older.
In these challenging times, it’s easy to feel like you’re just not coping but the reality is that there is too much for anyone to cope with right now. Take every day as it comes, work out a practical solution for achieving your most important goals, review expectations and don’t be too hard on yourself.