I know our lives have changed. Managing housework and professional life is not easy and it can make us feel frustrated, irritable, sad or hopeless. Many of us feel stuck at home or are waiting for the lockdown to get over. In addition to this, the news related to COVID-19 is only increasing our anxiety levels. However, in our daily stress and fight to balance between personal and professional life, precisely work from home, we have started focusing more on the problem and less on the solutions.
Agreed we have a pandemic, but let’s focus on changing our perception towards the current situation. In other words, let’s focus on accepting reality and adapting to it the current scenario. I know working from home with kids around is not at all easy, you’ve to manage so many things. It is important to have a quiet workspace, you need to accomplish a certain set of goals for the day and all this can only happen if you are able to minimize distractions in your workspace at home. To many of us, this may sound like a difficult task with kids around, especially when they themselves are undergoing such a huge change in their routines. But our kids need support from us and the last thing they need right now is our scolding. So it is important to get our children to comply with our work goals. It sounds difficult but it can be managed. Let’s have a look at how you can find a distraction and noise-free workspace where you can meet your goals and respond well to your kids at the same time.
1) Make a Plan
Plan out activities in advance not only for yourself but also for your children. Make a list of activities for them to do during your work hours. Make this plan with your children, involve them in it if they are old enough to understand. You also need to communicate how you as a family need to work together in this. Write down the schedule, you may even decorate it with your children and paste it at a place where it can be seen easily. You can also start giving tokens or stars to your children for following the schedule, which can act as a reinforcer (for eg. maybe after 5 stars, you make their favourite food or give half n hour extra tv time or whatever suits you and your family, this can then increase to 10 stars and so on). Make sure that you are not overdoing the rewards. If you have toddlers then you can plan your work according to their schedule; keep a fixed routine for their nap time, meal times and playtime, this way you will know when they need you the most. In fact, for preschoolers, you can give them some sitting activities that they enjoy like stacking or transferring objects, this way they can be busy while you work.
2) Plan Play Activities For younger kids, you can set up a play corner with a colourful mat and some of their favourite toys. For some older children you can set up a book corner or some pretend play corner. The idea is to keep their activities planned in advance. This also includes preparing their snacks in advance. It doesn’t have to be fancy snacks – anything that’s quick and healthy would do.
3) Take Short Breaks Between Work
Take short breaks in between your work if possible. In these breaks you can give attention to your children. You can think of taking breaks after 30-45 minutes of work as children usually have a short attention span. This break can be as short as 10 minutes. The idea is to relax your mind and also to keep your children informed in advance about your break timings. Setting a timer can help so that they know when you will get free.
4) Divide Responsibilities
If you have help at home, you and your partner can divide work and home responsibilities. Have it sorted well in advance, divide house-related work equally. Set specific roles which are well discussed in advance. These roles need to be communicated to your children as well so that they know whom to approach for a particular work. Moreover, this way you will also model good teamwork to your children so that they understand that no work is gender-specific, and of course seeing their parents work together will be a happy sight for your children. While you do this, you may have some major disagreements with your partner but make sure to avoid such discussions in front of your children.
4) Involve Children in House Work
This sounds like a tough one, especially for parents of adolescent children, but you can turn it into fun. Dedicate responsibilities to your older children and make sure that they take it seriously. If they don’t do a particular task assigned to them, don’t rush to do it. They may take a day or two, but when they see it’s not done, they will do it. For toddlers turn housework into a play activity and tell them to assist you, they love it (for eg, while drying clothes take them with you and assign a small task like handling the clothes to you). This way, you won’t have to juggle between going behind them and doing house chores.
5) Pamper Yourself
Do not forget to take out some me-time even if it’s as short as 30 minutes per day. This is your time, do not feel guilty about it. Plan it according to your child’s schedule. You may even make a special corner in your house for this where you can sit and just relax and engage in your favourite activities. Keep in mind that just like we try to minimize distractions while working from home similarly do not get distracted by any household work during this time. Many of us may see those piles of utensils and think let’s finish that first or may feel that me-time can be comprised, but NO, it shouldn’t be compromised. Your me-time is important to help maintain your happiness which will definitely make you more productive and energetic.
6) Make Time for Your Children
Make sure you have a separate family playtime for children in your schedules. This will ensure some fun and also make your children feel secure and more prepared to let you complete your work during office hours. You can play board games or colour, paint or have some storytime with them. Please remember to keep your mobile phones away during this time. Just like your work requires undivided attention, so does playing with children.
7) Don’t Be Harsh on Yourself
We as parents tend to feel guilty over everything from not cooking enough for our children to not giving them enough time. Don’t feel guilty, we are not superhumans and are allowed to make mistakes. We should not compare ourselves with other parents on social media and must remember that all parents do their best for their children, so no guilt trips please.
In a nutshell, small things like planning in advance, making a play area for your children, taking short breaks, dividing responsibilities, engaging children in housework and ensuring playtime with children post work will definitely make your lives easier. This will also make our children more structured and independent. Also, let’s not forget to pamper ourselves for doing a great job daily. Let this quarantine help us build our children and of course us into stronger individuals.
Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions (including content in any form) expressed within this post are those of the author alone. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The responsibility for intellectual property rights of this content rests with the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with him/her.