There’s a meme going round showing a freelancer working from home before and after coronavirus- and there’s no difference.
But, actually, while it’s good for a laugh, for many of us there is a BIG difference- our kids are also around. In fact, the situation may look more like this cartoon.
A lot of my one to one coaching recently has been centred around how to balance work with childcare. Now, with UK schools having closed due to coronavirus too, it’s even more at the forefront of my mind.
Whether you were already working from home, or just starting, here are a few tips:
Get a structure and routine going
This is important for both you and for the kids. If they’re teenagers, you don’t want to be constantly nagging them to get out of bed, or having everyone cooking themselves food at different times. If they’re small, a constant routine will be reassuring at a time when they might be feeling quite discombobulated. In fact, that goes for us all.
Create some clear boundaries around your work time
Exactly how you do this will depend on your personal situation, obviously: how old your children are, if you have support from a partner and so on. But if you try and work at the same time as focusing on your children, you are just going to get snappy and overwhelmed.
Especially if you have small children and no other adult support, you are not going to be able to produce at your usual superhuman level. I strongly advise you to accept this, and to face down that little voice that says that you’ll get fired/never be employed again etc if you aren’t working just as productively as you were before this crisis. Believe me, no-one is going to be doing this, including your bosses. Obviously this doesn’t mean just giving up and watching Netflix, but challenge any perfectionist tendencies.
Firstly communicate with your employers. Let them know what’s happening for you, and try and find out what impact all this is having on them. You don’t want to half kill yourself trying to meet a deadline only to find they’re running two weeks behind themselves. Secondly, communicate with your partner if you have one, and with your children. Give yourselves a chance to discuss the impact all this is having on you, to comfort, to just listen.
Build in self care
These are tough times and you have a lot on your shoulders if you’re juggling working from home and childcare simultaneously. If you’re going to manage this- and keep well- you absolutely must make time to look after your physical and mental well-being. Make it a priority, and you’ll be in a much better position to support your family.
Here’s a link to a fabulous collection of resources for anyone working from home, with a long list of resources for kids.