With the quick rise of coronavirus cases in the U.S., a number of agencies, businesses, and schools are asking their employees to work from home to prevent the spread of the virus. This may sound ideal to some of us, but hectic to others.
For those with children, it might be especially difficult to juggle work responsibilities, take care of and entertain your children, and ensure everyone stays protected and healthy.
In order to help you maintain your physical and mental health, Talkspace has created the following list to help you make the best out of working from home while children are not attending school in person.
Maintain Structure By Keeping A Detailed Schedule
Although it is easy to think about sleeping a little late, don’t! Though you have the ability to design your schedule, we recommend sticking to your regular working hours, which will make the transition easier for everyone. The brain is accustomed and wired to keep to your routine, i.e., work the same hours every day. Changing up that structure can create confusion and you may lose focus or interest.
Create a daily or weekly schedule with your children in mind. With your help, they can create one too! For the children, this is a great example and also an opportunity for them to learn to follow a schedule of their own.
Even if you are not going out to the office, get dressed and do the same with the children. The idea of working while wearing pajamas may sound great, but it communicates to our brain that we are ready to rest. Getting dressed as if you were going to the office can make a big difference in your energy level and attitude.
Talk To Your Supervisor
Have a clear understanding of what needs to be completed, deadlines, and expectations. If you find it somewhat difficult to work from home, ask your supervisor for some ideas. As a person in charge of other employees, your supervisor may share what other employees are doing and what is working for them, their families, and the organization in general.
Select times to check in with your supervisor
It is also important to talk to the supervisor about having your children at home and that you may require extra time some days. The expectation should be for organizations to be caring and understanding, as this is not a requested vacation, but comes from the need to protect the company, community, and your family — this is a time for altruism, afterall.
Take Short Breaks As Needed
This is needed at home, and in the office, with or without children. Here’s a suggestion — use post-its to write a thing you like to do that takes between 5 and 30 minutes. Then, fold each one in four. Place them in a cup and every time you can take a break, pick one of the papers and do what the activity says.
The children can create their own post-it cup and use it when finishing an assignment or a chore.
Do something educational and something fun with the children
Puzzles, board games, and books are excellent ways to keep our children occupied at home. Avoid simply giving them the iPad and letting them use it all day. The same goes for TV and video games.
Create Goals and Break Them Down Into Tasks
Without your supervisor walking by every hour, it might be easy to get distracted or it may take you a little longer to complete what you have to do. Create a list of daily or weekly goals and break them down into daily or hourly tasks. Every time you complete something substantial, reward yourself with a mini break or with a cup of tea, coffee, or a glass of lemonade. This is a good opportunity to share a few minutes with the children and check how they are doing with their own assignments.
Divide Responsibilities With Parenting Partner
If there is a partner in the picture, work together and divide childcare responsibilities equally. If parenting preferences clash between you and your partner, one of you can take care of the more serious needs of the children, while the other one entertains them, or trade off responsibilities — while the other one completes work related activities, the other cares for the kids or takes a break to recharge.
Use Your Support System
If you have friends, family or neighbors that can assist, do not hesitate to ask for help. It is perfectly acceptable to ask, but make certain both the kids and the person who will assist in caring for them are healthy. Do not feel guilty for asking for help, but also make sure that you and your children will be safe, and that you don’t put someone else who might be vulnerable at risk.
Stay in touch with colleagues
Call or email coworkers, not only to see how they are doing with work, but also to benefit from their support. Staying in touch can help you feel more comfortable with the new working situation and provide a sense of normalcy.
For your kids, assist them in communicating with a classmate or two. They might also feel isolated without their normal social interactions at school and they’ll certainly miss their friends.
Talk To Your Therapist Online
If you have an online therapist — congratulations! You are ahead of the game. If you see a therapist in person, ask if you can have online sessions, that way you can stay at home without putting anyone at risk. Your children could also benefit from talking to a therapist, allowing the whole family to discuss concerns, relationships, feelings, and to make sure the working from home experience is only a positive and a healthy one for everyone.
If you’re interested in more tips, check out Talkspace’s free online support group.