While schools are closed and states have issued stay-at-home orders, many of us who are lucky enough to still have jobs have been working from home while simultaneously watching our kid(s). As I am writing this, I have been working from home for about 7 weeks and taking care of my 2-year old daughter. To adapt to this new normal, we have been forced to come up with creative strategies to balance work and child-rearing. Here are a few tips to make it work for you.
Make a Daily Schedule for the Whole Family
My primary goal in making a schedule has been to keep my daughter’s routine as normal as possible while still managing to complete my own work obligations. Our schedule is the same as in pre-quarantine days - from when we wake up in the morning, when we eat our meals, nap time, exercise time, and bedtime. My own schedule and my husband’s schedule are different every day, but we try not to have meetings at the same time so we can trade off parenting duties. If all else fails, we can usually keep our 2-year old entertained with a video for about 30-45 minutes uninterrupted. If your work schedule is flexible or relatively predictable, you can schedule out specific times for work and times to interact with your child(ren).
Work Life Balance
If you are new to working from home, it can be tempting to work late hours or on your day off since there is no change in location between work and home. It helps to have a place where you can set up your “office” and only spend time there when you are working. Maintaining a work-life balance is so important and failing to do so can lead to resentment toward your job or toward your kid(s). Block out time for work and time for family, instead of trying to do both simultaneously.
Share the Burden
If you have a partner who is also working from home, try to divide time between both parents to balance the load. It is exhausting trying to be both a full-time worker and full-time parent at the same time and can lead to burn-out. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help when you’ve hit your limit.
Keep Your Kids Entertained
There are plenty of ways to keep your kids entertained that don’t require plopping them down in front of the TV. Encourage independent play like blocks, reading, puzzles, and other games they can do on their own. For older kids, they may have school assignments to complete. And, of course, a little extra screen time won’t kill them if you really need to work uninterrupted.
Incorporate Physical Activity
Exercise is great for relieving stress and reducing anxiety. My daughter loves to go outside and is really missing the playground right now. As an alternative, we have been taking walks. My husband usually takes her outside in the morning for a walk around the neighborhood and then we go for a long walk as a family before dinner. If the walk isn’t enough to tire her out, we climb stairs, jump on a mini trampoline, or sing and dance.
Make Productive Use of Nap Time
If your child still takes naps, this is a perfect time to work on those tasks that require your full attention, make phone calls, hold virtual meetings, or even write a newsletter article for your clients.
Take Care of Yourself
During these stressful times, it is also important for parents to take care of themselves. Anxiety and depression have skyrocketed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Engage in some “me time” to relax and unwind. Some great stress reducing activities include meditation, exercise, reading, or video games. If you are struggling, you can seek help from a mental health professional. Many health insurance companies are waiving co-pays for therapist appointments and allow for virtual therapy sessions.
Remember, This Too Will Pass
Most importantly, remember that this crisis will eventually end. People will go back to work, kids will go back to school, and the stock market will go back up. Try not to worry about what you cannot control, be kind to your neighbors, and be patient.
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