Managing your workload and parenting
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Working from home during the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. I have loved the extra time I have had to spend with my son. However it has meant that I have had to juggle my workload and parenting, obviously as a working Mum I have always had to do this, however now that my work is done in my home I have needed to ensure I can separate the two as much as possible. This has been for my sanity and also for the benefit of my son!
COVID-19 is out of our control, so it is important to focus on things that are in our control!
I think it is important to remember that parenting is hard at the best of times. We need to not be too hard on ourselves. I found being really honest with my husband and employer with the areas that I was struggling with worked well. There is no point pretending or pushing through, as eventually you will miss something important or make a mistake. Being upfront may not eliminate the mistake but it can make it less stressful.
Routine! This has been the most important thing for me. I knew that the quicker we were both in a routine the easier this would be. I am fortunate to be in a workplace that have been flexible with work hours to accommodate having children home. For 10 weeks I attended our morning meeting, then spent 4 hours with my son and then back to work when my husband arrived home. I quickly realised that if my son was fed and entertained – yes sometimes this involved screen time – I could get through the morning meeting with out too many issues. Sure, he wanted to have a look and see who was on the video meeting, but to be honest he moved on after a minute or two most days. Of course some days were harder then others and we went through a faze of him “needing” to show the meeting his toys etc but all in all it was fairly seamless!
Being at home all the time is new for kids who are used to going to school, kinder and day care and I think part of that is exciting and shiny. Talking to them and explaining that you need to work will go a long way, it will definitely be more effective then constantly telling them to go away. My son now often sits at my desk at nights and tells me he has to do some work!!
4. Use your time wisely
Workload wise however, the four hour break in the middle of the day saw me making calls and completing tasks that couldn’t wait until the afternoon. It was important to use my time wisely. Although it wasn’t expected of me, I also found that checking my emails every hour or so also made it less stressful for me in the long run. I didn’t like the idea of someone sending me something and potentially there being a four hour lag on my reply or me following up their request. I had a to-do list each day which I prioritised, but I also made sure the things that required my full attention were done when my husband was home. This meant I could be fully focused and not wondering which wall was being drawn on!
5. Ask for the help
I am lucky to work in a supportive team, and found if I really wasn’t in a position to action something due to my clock in and clock out times, they were more then willing to help. Always ask for help if you need it, your team should be more than understanding.
6. Create a happy space
Another thing I found which helped ease the stress and keep me focus was having music on in the afternoon, again this allowed me to block out what else was happening around the house and get my work done.
I have also found during this time people real seem to be more understanding. In our business we are constantly on the phone to clients and interviewing candidates for new roles. I would often say in the early part of the conversation “I will just let you know that I have my son home with me just in case he pops into screen or you hear him in the background”. I found that everyone would say they understood or that they also had kids at home. This was actually a real great ice breaker for candidates as we would then talk about their kids, or the “new world” juggles and this would relax them a little bit before we got into more formal questions.
Overall working and parenting can be done from home successfully and I think there are definitely pros to it. As long as you are organised and transparent I think can be a winning option.