I’ve been working from home on Mondays or both Mondays and Fridays for the past ten years. This was a way for me to practice some semblance of sanity while being a solo mom who worked long hours for some extremely busy professionals.
However, these are difficult times and almost everyone, especially in large cities, are being asked to stay home. While working from home normally would be something to look forward to, having children can make this situation more stressful and demanding. What can you do? Your kids need your attention and you are “right there”. But you have to continue to earn a living because like it or not, you are one of the blessed ones. Many just lost their jobs, period.
But nothing may have prepared you for the complications that arise from having your children home from school on an extended basis. After all, you didn’t plan this. We are being knocked for six with seemingly daily changes that are drastically affecting how we live, move and work.
Yet, there are some things you can do to cope with the myriad of changes and moving parts that have to be addressed due to our current health crisis. Maybe these can help alleviate some of the anxiety you experience:
Breathe, Write, Pray
Take some time to breathe. Journal your thoughts. Pray if you believe and even if you don’t. Mindfulness can go a long way in preserving your sanity while you struggle to maintain order in the midst of the chaos that has become your home. You no longer get to separate work from kids from a spouse.
The good news is that you have no commute time. The bad news is it’s a jumbled mess.
So taking a breather whether first thing in the morning, during a midday break or last thing at night, take 15 minutes to allow yourself to breathe, write and pray. Try one of these activities. You may like one enough to incorporate in your regular routine.
Create a Plan of Action
A couple of weeks have passed but you may still be trying to adjust to your new norm. You can still create a plan of action if the one you currently have is not working.
What do you need to do the ensure the children are occupied and still learning, while still getting your work done? I think this is a time when the term “work/life balance” will matter. How much time are you expected to spend sitting at your desk? Does your job allow you to have a baby on your lap while you work (meaning, if you are dealing with customers, it might not always work).
A plan allows you to block time off for work so you don’t find yourself working around the clock. It also allows you to make time for your children and spouse while taking care of yourself.
Create Separate Spaces
Just as important as blocking time is creating space for each aspect of your new environment. Make a dedicated space to set up your workspace. You may already have a home office but for some, space in the home might be at a premium, especially with children in the mix. Create a play area for your kids and this may be an extension of what they already have. If it’s warm and you have outdoor space, working outdoors while the kiddos get some playtime might go a long way to relieve stress while giving them a break.
NOTE: If you can make separate space for learning and playtime. This can help to keep them from getting bored as they so often do.
Make a schedule to take mini breaks but plan what you will do. Break to put clothes in the laundry or spend a few minutes reading to your child. Also, take lunch as usual. That means time away from your work so you can attend to personal and family activities. If possible walk to the grocery store on one of your breaks so everything is not left to be done on the weekend. If you have the luxury, you can also take a longer route to give yourself time to breathe. Or take the kids along if it’s safe to do so, giving them an opportunity to explore and learn something new.
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Use Weekends to Plan Ahead
Now that you are working from home and the kids may be out of school for the foreseeable future, use weekends to prepare meals ahead of time. Make meals in batch and freeze for use during the week. An instant pot or slow cooker is a great tool that can create nutritious meals in batches ahead of time. This is also another opportunity to get the kids involved in preparing meals, especially their lunches for the week ahead.
Finally, Create New Memories
This is the perfect time to create new and different memories. A colleague of mine told me how years ago many families got together during a two-week religious conflict in India. The families bonded together during a time of conflict and uncertainty. He told me that despite the fact that it has been decades since the conflict, families still get together for two weeks each year to celebrate each other.
So, hopefully in decades to come your family will be able to reminisce about your current situation. I hope that your stories will elicit feelings of joy and hopefulness, even if now is a difficult time for you.
Try to stay calm and reach out for solutions that may help you cope in these trying times. You are not alone.
US-wide – http://FindHelp.org
Center for Disease Ccontrol: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-
Homeschooling Resources: https://www.education.com/workbook/independent-study-