COVID-19 has introduced us to new norms, including our current reality of working from home while also taking care of your kids and accomplishing household chores. Working from home is no joke, add to that keeping the kids occupied and putting food on the table and ensuring that your home is clean and in tip-top shape and you’re possibly in for a heap of trouble.
So how do you survive the next few weeks? Here are a few tips:
Set a schedule
It is important to set your day carefully, with set “working” hours. Ask yourself: how many hours or tasks do you intend to accomplish today? How will you handle conference calls? What can your kids do while you’re busy on said call? What tasks can you do while your kids are playing with Legos? Or while they’re coloring in the other room?
Although it’s ok to set tasks and hours, you can also maximize the flexibility working from home affords you. If your child fusses, you can set aside a few minutes to calm him down and catch up on work later once he does. But also ensure that you have an agreement with your higher-ups/employer on your possible flexible work from home schedule or how many hours per day you should log while telecommuting.
Make the most of naptime
Your child’s naptime is one part of the day wherein you can work like mad without any interruption. Whether naptime is one or three hours, use this time well to finish tasks that require your utmost attention.
If naptime is not happening for today, then try to have quiet time instead. Set your child in his crib or room with a few toys (do ensure that he’s also safe!) and work as much as you can while he’s busy exploring his stuff. This could give you around 20 minutes of “quiet” time depending on the age of your child.
Separate your two roles
Mom and career woman that is — treat them separately and allot time for each. At the same time, give your full concentration on each during the allotted time. Doing so will allow you to perform well on each and let you feel that you’re succeeding in both roles as well.
Designating one room or even corner of your home as “office” space can also allow you to detach from housework and just be in “work mode.” Plus, leaving this room or corner at the end of each “work” day can help you disengage and shift back to mommy mode.
Keep kids entertained
Keeping the kids entertained could mean scheduling age-appropriate activities, giving them toys and books to keep them occupied. But another thing that could help is giving them a little quality time as well. Spend a few minutes playing with them at first, then let them play by themselves when you work. Doing so will allow you a few hours of uninterrupted peace compared to letting them play on their own.
Another trick is to set aside activities, movies, or even toys that they can do exclusively during “mommy’s work time.” This way, they’ll look forward to doing these and are more likely to busy themselves with it once the opportunity comes.
Plan for interruptions
Everyone who works from home has a horror story or blooper that usually involves their kids while on their conference call. Such instances can be unavoidable, but you can somewhat prevent it by setting “cues” which mean you shouldn’t be disturbed unless necessary. It can be as simple as a “do not disturb” sign or a sock on your door, or even a tiara that means your kids should try to keep quiet. You can also set non-verbal cues — practice that steely look that means your kids should stop what they are doing and keep quiet.
Get help if you need it
Granted that child care is difficult these days especially with the community quarantine, but you can still seek help from your partner or any extended family you might be with at home. If both you and your partner are working from home, try to schedule conference calls at different times to ensure that one is keeping an eye on the kids.