As I mentioned on Instagram last week, I led a webinar at work for working families. My team, as a whole, is running a series of webinars for our organisation to help people cope with this crisis and feel less alone.
The content of our webinar was pretty good, but I couldn’t have guessed how much it would resonate with people. We have requests to do more calls because people really need and want the support.
I figured it would be good to share this information on the blog as well, since so many of you are working parents who are now working from home with your kids. And honestly speaking, I think some of this information applies to parents who aren’t working from home (for a company) but just at home with their kids.
Hope you find something useful for your situation. Here we go…
What I want to share today are the top tips we discussed as a group. Of course, these are just a few of many, but these resonated with us as working parents.
Don’t expect to work at your normal capacity – I read in an article that said, “Take the to-do list you had for today and cut it in half, then cut it in half again,” That made me laugh! Everyone is going to be less productive during this time. Being proactive with your manager and co-workers and setting realistic expectations about what you can accomplish is necessary to prevent misunderstandings down the line.
Open and ongoing conversations – It’s not always easy to talk to your boss or colleagues in an open way about your family, especially when that means you will be working odd hours and may not deliver things during the traditional time. Regardless, it’s important to have these conversations and to be transparent when doing so. You team needs to understand what you’re facing right now. That’s the only way they will know what to expect and how to support you.
Agree on how and when you will communicate – Where possible, establish a schedule with your availability and put it in your work calendar. This will provide clarity for your team. Try to keep your out-of-office up to date as well. The more you can share, the better. Establish with your manager the frequency with which you will both communicate as well as the format that will work best (email, calls, etc).
Align your priorities – Your business priorities may have shifted. Establish what your new priorities are and get buy-in from your line manager. And where possible, work with your manager to establish achievable timelines for your new priorities.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE – And most importantly, please remember that you are not alone at this time. There are millions of people just like you who are trying to work, raise kids, and survive this virus. If you ever feel alone and don’t know where to turn, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m always here!
Home + Kid Life
Self care – Harvard Business Review published an article in March where the author responsible for popularising the grief cycle explains how the ‘discomfort you are feeling’ right now is grief. This brings a range of emotions: grief over things that have changed or fear over what we may lose, along with anxiety, frustration, anger, bewilderment, sadness. With that being said, it’s important that we put on our own oxygen masks first, regardless of whether that’s before our kids or our colleagues. Taking care of yourself is key at a time like this.
Prioritize your schedule – Think through your most important tasks every day (2-3 at most) and figure out how to build your day around those. Maybe that involves shift work with your partner, maybe it’s TV time, maybe it’s setting up activities the night before so your kids are occupied in the morning or whenever your important calls are. This will look different for each of us, but it’s important to prioritize on a daily basis for both work as well as your home life and structure your day around those key things.
Protect your family life – If you live with a partner, try to ensure you are taking a fair share. Fair doesn’t necessarily mean the same or equal. But it is a balance that is fair for each of you given your individual responsibilities, pressures, and strengths. Also, make sure each parent has a share of the easier/more fun aspects of family life. Put a plan together but be prepared to flex and/or rewrite it. Consider a quick family meeting each night to work out what’s happening the next day. Find time to talk through what worked/what didn’t work.
Define your temporary parenting principles – Maybe this is related to screen time and how much your kids get now versus how much time you allocated previously; maybe this means more frozen foods now whereas before your kids were eating fresh fruit and veggies; maybe this means more ice cream; or maybe a movie night three times a week. These are unprecedented times, and temporarily changing your parenting principles/approach is OK and sometimes necessary for all parties!
Distance learning is a challenge for everyone – We’re not teachers. We didn’t go to school for this. In fact, we had no time to prepare for this monumental shift. So instead of stressing out yourself and your kids, try to incorporate learning into everyday tasks and be more of an educational buddy. This is more about survival than teaching the ABCs or times table.
The stories and anecdotes that were shared were awesome too. I honestly related to everything everyone said.
The bottom line is that we’re lucky to still have our jobs, but this is still hard. There’s lots of guilt, frustration, etc. But in the same breath, we’re lucky to be home with our babies – safe and sound.
I’ll share more of my insights and thoughts as we continue with more webinars and life at home with our kids…while trying to work. Ay ay ay!
Please stay at home, people. This virus is not pretty and we all need to do our part to keep everyone safe.