For parents, the key to working from home is establishing a routine, writes Gwen Moran for Fast Company.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, your children’s school is closed and you have been instructed to work from home. You are struggling to adapt to the “new normal”, living, working and learning all under one roof.
Working from home and caring for children are not tasks that always complement each other well. But there are ways to cope.
You can start by taking the following four steps:
1) Prioritise. You are not going to get as much work done as you usually would. Accept this. Now look at your weekly schedule and determine the most important tasks for each day. You will be surprised how much can be jettisoned without having a negative impact on your performance.
2) Create a schedule. Your children’s teachers have a plan for every day. Now your children are being homeschooled, you should too. Start with your usual morning routine – get up, get clean, get dressed, get breakfast – and then “front-load the day with the most essential tasks”.
Follow your children’s school schedule as closely as possible. Make sure you include breaks. We humans are only able to focus for limited periods of time – 30 minutes for younger children, 90 minutes for adults.
3) Claim your own time. Get up before everyone else to enjoy some time to yourself.
Couples can rotate two-hour shifts: one “on duty” with the children, the other working.
Single parents should plan to work during periods when children are absorbed in activities that don’t require constant supervision e.g. naps (babies), educational apps or TV shows (pre-school) or reading (older children).
4) Look for resources. Keep up to speed with government announcements. Keep in touch with your children’s school and take advantage of any guidance and support being offered. Keep in touch with other parents and share advice, concerns and information. If you are struggling, your employer might be willing to offer more flexibility.
DO IT YOUR WAY
This is a unique situation requiring a response tailored to your specific circumstances. There is no right or wrong answer. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
“Give yourself grace, and realise the beginning is going to be tougher while you get into a rhythm,” says Chaya Gutnick, an expert in early childhood education and founder of operational efficiency consultancy Control My Chaos.