Managing full-time work schedules and young children is no easy feat on any given day – let alone when we are hit with a global pandemic that sends our nation into lockdown for a month. The result, a frustrated parent and a raging toddler who doesn’t understand why “mommy can’t play right now!”. That was the start of last week for me. With a few days passing and a new routine being established, things are on the up and up!
It’s day 6 of lockdown in New Zealand. Day 4 of working remotely. By now, most of you are set up to work from home, and if you have a partner they are most likely doing the same. Coffee consumption is at an all-time high…and stress may be as well. Here are some of my personal tips for managing work, meeting your daily work objectives and keeping your toddler alive and yourself sane.
Prepare to multi-task – One minute you are Zoom Video calling your colleagues, the next you are constructing a mega blocks masterpiece or cleaning up literal spilt milk and the tears that came with it. It’s no secret that parents are amongst the greatest multi-taskers of all time. This skill will be harnessed in the weeks to come. I get through my day by prioritising my professional workload and my toddler’s demands with the help of my amazing husband, and a robust to-do list. Take it hour by hour, day by day – but always get through your list!
Maximise your child’s midday rest/nap periods – The lockdown occurred at around about the same time that my toddler decided that he didn’t need a midday nap any longer – hooray. Either this or he isn’t being kept active enough to burn off energy to warrant a good nap (and we all know what that means…queue over-tired tantrums). I find it helps by getting out the house in the morning and tuckering the little terror out. Utilise any downtime they may have, eating lunch, watching the ol’ tele (yes, I let my kid watch TV), or napping, use this time wisely!
Stick to your usual working routine (try to at least) – On a usual Monday, your child decides to sleep till 7am instead of their weekend wake time of 5:30am, they have a sixth sense for knowing when mom has to be places! You rush through breakfast, you rush to get them changed, you negotiate with them to brush their teeth….another perk of not leaving the house – you don’t really need to be rushing right now. But – don’t let this sidetrack you. Be ready to commence your working day at the same time you normally would and if your “new normal” (yes…that phrase again) is starting your working day at 10am, then that’s fine too, but take your regular breaks, ensure you eat a good lunch and remember to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day!
Share the load – If you have a partner to share the load with, ensure that you set up a schedule with them. My husband and I are taking it in 2 hourly chunks right now, and we find that gives us 6 hours in the day (give or take, depends on if your child is in a good mood or not)….and of course, time to make that up in the evenings if necessary! For some societal reason, there is still a lot of pressure put on us mothers to do the ordinary, day-to-day, running of the household, which includes getting your kids fed, cleaned and dressed to an acceptable standard for leaving the house. The best thing about this current situation, we don’t need to leave the house – excellent – one major task erased from a list of battles – especially if your child isn’t really into wearing pants lately. Sharing the load also includes the household chores, as it would evidently seem that being stuck safe indoors creates way more laundry, dishes and mess!
Dedicate a quiet space – I am sure your colleagues and clients will be super understanding (and some may even find it funny) when they see a tiny human’s face pop into the corner of the screen during a video call, but it probably isn’t ideal that this happens time after time after time. By dedicating a quiet space/room in the house where you can go to take calls or participate in video meetings, you can eliminate a lot of time wasted (and eye rolling)! Read here for more Video interviewing tips. Oh, and if they manage to escape the care of your significant other and come barging into your ‘safe zone’, have snacks on hand to distract them with – seriously it works!
When you strip this all back, how wonderful is it that we get to spend more time with our children during this period. I have always been a believer of quality time over quantity of time, but remember this phase is, well…. just a phase, and soon you will return to the beautiful chaotic life that you had before and you’ll long for the days of taking daily family walks, watching Paw Patrol on repeat and cleaning up toys for the 100th time that day….(maybe!)
Be kind, stay safe, stay home!