If you are reading this, it’s a given that you have to provide for your family in so many ways at the same time. This is such a weird time in history, and we are being asked to do things that have generally never been asked of people before while dealing with the effects of the pandemic. One hot topic that we, unfortunately, cannot avoid is what to do with your kids when they are home, and you are supposed to work from home. In my case, we have no extended family so all childcare falls on my husband and me. We both work from home. We were fully in shock when the kindergarten closed and we were forced to all cohabitate in a small flat with no possibility to visit the playground or do any of our normal activities. Our youngest, while very mobile, was not old enough to go for walks. I found myself in a position where I was a wife, teacher, mother, cafeteria worker, cleaning person, referee, and employee with deadlines to meet. In the olden days, you would just open the door and tell the kids to play outside so they wouldn’t get under your feet. Nowadays it’s important to keep even older kids engaged and at home with you because in an urban area like we live in it’s not safe for them to be out and about without supervision. What a challenge we face!
Disclaimer: It is not easy to work at home with kids. Give yourself some grace. Finding a routine that fits everyone and doesn’t drive you nuts is a real feat!
Work when they sleep
If you do have to work at night, plan a nap or meditation during the day. It may not seem that much but it will prevent some of the damage that comes with sleep deprivation.
Nap time is a crucial time for having important calls and getting things done. It can also backfire badly if you have a little one who will not sleep or is ill and needs more attention. When it works for you it can be fabulous.
Parents take shifts with the kids
You and your partner will have to decide what is possible. I know that parents who have a job where they must be present might not have a solution for this. I know a lot of Fathers who must “be in the office” most of the day and only pop out for meals. That unfortunately leaves the mother with the brunt of the caretaking. If you have kids of different age groups, you might call on your older kids to entertain the kids for short periods so that you can get something done.
Make time to facetime extended family and friends – a visit with Grandma and Grandpa might be great for lifting spirits. If you cannot see your friends, you can always chat with them. Kids love to play show and tell on camera. Let them show all their favorite toys and pictures they have drawn.
Plan independent play
There are many amazing crafts you can find on Instagram or pbs.org
Some TV is fine but does not leave your children unattended watching television. If your children do watch TV make sure that it is something that you have seen before and make an effort to talk about it later. Ask questions and tie the subjects into other activities. For grade school kids there are many dance and yoga tutorials on YouTube. This keeps kids active and gives them something to work at while you are working.
Other technologies like pads and game consoles are great. Just make sure that you are monitoring the amount of time your kids spend on these devices. Another thing is to choose the right headphones so that your children are not listening at a volume that could be damaging to their hearing.
Give yourself a treat
Whether you love wine or chocolate – allow yourself the things you love in moderation.
Think about self-analysis in the form of journaling or find yourself an online therapist. A psychoanalyst with help you tap into your unconscious mind to recover repressed emotions and deep-seated, sometimes forgotten experiences. By gaining a better understanding of your subconscious mind, you can acquire insight into the internal motivators that drive your thoughts and behaviors. It takes about twelve weeks to see any effects of regular therapy. The therapist is a guide, and you only address issues when you are ready and willing to. Therapy can help you make healthier decisions and deal with issues you might feel helpless about.
Plan fun snacks
Kids love to eat plan treats and experience cooking and baking are great distractions for kids. Make sure you have some hidden snacks for those times when you need to focus or be present on a call.
Use a virtual background
That way you won’t have to stress about any mess or kids running around in the background.
Let your children say Hi on the call
Better to get it out of the way than have them interrupt at critical or tense moments. Also, let your colleagues know that you will be on mute to cut out any background noise that could be distracting in the call.
Making a schedule
Kids need constant attention. Whether it is going to the potty, getting a snack, having a cuddle, reading a book, playing a game, or the time-consuming bedtime routine your kids need you! If you have an employer who doesn’t understand or care about your challenges as a parent, it might make you feel quite alone. One day everything might run smoothly, and other days can be very chaotic. Give yourself and your kids some flexibility in how you do things. You do not have to be perfect.
It might be maddening but it is okay if you can only work 20 minutes at a time. This is all about survival and finding a rhythm that works. You might have to log off and check in with your little one. Don’t feel bad about it and trust your parental instincts.
Clean up together
Even the littlest kid can learn to use a handheld vacuum. Teach them that if they make a mess, they need to clean it up. It helps to have a place for everything at the eye-line level of the kids so that if they take something out they can put it back themselves.
Buy a Toy Laptop
When you spend so much time at your computer your kids can also become obsessed with it. It’s really up to you but some moms suggested the solution of buying your child their toy version of a laptop. Let them learn the alphabet while feeling connected to you through “work”. These are uncharted waters people let’s try not to judge. Your kids might love having their workspace.
Let them make a mess
Don’t even think of cleaning up until they are finished playing. First of all, you will make yourself crazy trying, and secondly, you will make them feel nervous about doing anything. Don’t take the fun out of the play.
Sometimes you will have to resign yourself to the fact that life is messy. I tried to have the weekly call with my Boss at a park while my children were playing. They were hungry, whined the whole time, and then eventually my oldest hurt herself playing. That meeting was an exercise in futility, but I hope my team got the message that I showed up and did my best to be a part of the meeting even though it ultimately was a big failure.
The age of your kid matters! The length of their concentration matters! Their ability to play independently matters! How you feel about leaving your kids to entertain themselves matters! It’s a lot of pressure to figure out where you stand on these things. You know your kids better than anyone else and that transcends any schedule, job, or pandemic.
If you or a family member is ill, ask your Boss if you can be present only for a few hours during the day. That way you won’t have to be absent, but you also won’t have to juggle taking care of them while trying to be productive. If you don’t ask you won’t receive.
Plan on being disrupted.
Just like a loud colleague, your kids will most likely harass you for hugs, food, and television and make multiple messes and you must keep your patience. I pray a lot. If you are not a Godly person, meditation can help a lot. Tapping into your inner strength and focusing on the power you hold within yourself is important. It is an exercise in patience, management, and organization. Life is testing you. Rise! If you can’t, treat yourself to happy hour or a piece of chocolate at the end of the day. You are worthy.
I hope that this is what doesn’t kill you and makes you a stronger moment for the masses. In a world of entitlement and Instagram, we are being forced to deal with unprecedented challenges. You can do it and I promise you that you will look back and laugh one day.
At The Cecily Group, we promote a holistic approach to Family Abundance, including Abundance of Time, Relationships, Purpose, and Wealth. Learn more about the Four Abundances here.