Sure, some people work from home with their kids and thrive. They’ve found their rhythm and have a routine that works for their career and their family. Others, especially workers who aren’t typically remote workers, might be reaching their breaking point as we approach the one-month mark of staying in our homes here in Ohio.
Parenting is a full-time job. Your job is also likely a full-time job. You also have to cook, clean, and sleep occasionally. The math doesn’t add up at the end of the day – you can’t do it all. In the middle of a pandemic when we’re all panicking about global health, political turmoil, and a likely economic crash, it’s difficult to focus on even one of those things.
Workers, this is isolating and you feel alone right now. You’re likely worried about your productivity and responsiveness at work and losing sleep over your child’s screen time. This is an incredibly difficult and unsustainable situation. Please know that you aren’t alone though. There are millions of other families like yours making the same hard decisions, feeling the same stresses, and having Kraft mac and cheese for dinner two nights in a row. You’ve got to do what you can to get by right now.
Here are a few tips that might help you:
If you have a partner or co-parent, divide the day into shifts and update your availability in your email signature.
Try getting up earlier than normal to have some quiet time to catch up on emails.
Give your kids work-related activities to do, depending on their age. A 5-year old can write letters on scrap paper. A 2-year old can empty pipe cleaners or blocks out of a bag and put them back in while you’re on a conference call.
Pack your lunch and your kids’ lunches every morning as if you’re going to work and school. That will cut down on the endless trips to stare at an empty refrigerator.
Take 15 minute breaks throughout the day and sit somewhere quiet. Lean on your spouse for this.
If you can, share your calendar with your spouse so you can prepare to herd kids away from calls, etc.
Don’t be afraid to get in the car and drive to a McDonald’s parking lot to work or read if you need some quiet time.
Leaders and employers, this is probably really anxiety-inducing for you. With no clear indication of when our state and country might begin to transition back to normal, and no idea of what normal might look like, you’re probably feeling very unsettled. When you can’t see your team and you know productivity is lagging, it’s understandable that you feel worried and uneasy. Please try to be empathetic and patient though. This will not last forever. The people you hired for these jobs are still the right people for these jobs.
Getting our businesses and nonprofit organizations through to the other side of this freeze is going to be hard and it’s going to take time. There’s never been a more important time for transparency, empathy, and compassionate leadership in our workplaces.