Balancing work at home with life and kids
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting our lives into the foreseeable future, I've have learned that parents (especially moms) are having a challenging time finding a balance between work and life duties with kids at home more than usual. With many activities, sports and camps limited or closed completely this summer, I can relate.
I think many hoped we would be back to some semblance of "normal" by now so they pushed through the past few months just trying to make it work and are now exhausted and uncertain about the months ahead.
With the start of school around the corner but for many the HOW it will actually take place still in flux, I wanted to share some thoughts around mindful tips that have certainly offered me, my Neat Little Nest team and those in my circle some support and solace as we all continue to navigate this collective experience together.
Be okay with more flexibility than usual
The time is now to incorporate more flexibility into everyday routines both for work, home and family tasks. Routines are still important to your daily life, but adding flexibility into those routines allows you to ebb and flow as needs arise. Remember that everyone you work with and your family members are all coping with the changing world so what may have worked in the past may need to be reimagined or adjusted to fit the current daily structure.
One practical way to be more flexible is to simply build more time into your schedule to get tasks completed. If a task would typically take you one hour to complete, budget 1.5 or 2 hours for that task today. Additionally, be sure to estimate how long it will take you to complete a task before saying yes to something new. And if you find that you simply cannot take on anything new, be sure to speak up to those around you asking for your time and support. Communication is key. You're not the only one trying to balance many plates, so don't feel bad if you need to share that you need more time to finish something. Being open and honest is the most helpful for everyone involved.
Take breaks and consider a time (if everyone is home) where you connect.
It has become very easy for the hours to pass by quickly working from home, sitting in one place unlike an office where you are much more likely to move around. Add in breaks every hour to stretch or get up and walk around. Your body and mind will thank you.
If you have a spouse and kids at home, try to set aside time during the work day to meet up for a check-in. If you have smaller children, you might need more check-ins throughout the day and those of you with older children might find one or two will be sufficient.
Setting aside some time to connect each day makes it easier for children to hold their requests and ask for your help when you can provide them undivided attention. Lunch is the perfect midday time to come together and catch up and chat about the afternoon and what that is looking for everyone. If you find that you have a child that is struggling with something at this point, you can review your schedule and see how you can adjust to meet the new demand for your time.
Reconsider or reorganize your at-home office and school spaces
What may have once been thought of as a temporary working space might have morphed into a longer-term one. If that's the case for you, you might want to consider what’s been working and not working in your home office and make necessary adjustments with the reality that your working-from-home circumstances might not be changing for several months or beyond.
Same goes with the kid’s home school spaces. If they end up part-time or full-time e-learning this fall, now is the time to reevaluate what an optimal environment for virtual schooling would look like.
For both home office and kid working spaces, consider items like lighting, appropriate desk/table height, supportive chairs, computer stands, extra paper filing systems, an inventory of printer cartridges, et al. I shared some thoughts about both work from home and home school spaces a few months back if you would like to read more.
Self-Care is a MUST
When lots of new responsibilities get added to our plates, often self care is the first things to be taken off of them. I've been guilty of this too, but I know that it's not healthy or sustainable to put off self care.
Just like they teach us on every airplane ride we've ever taken, putting your own oxygen mask on before assisting others is essential. It's essential to keep self-care top of mind so that you are able to remain healthy, vital and balanced. I like to use Sunday as a day for self care with some of my favorite self care essentials.
Consider the importance of adding daily stress-relieving activities like taking a walk, meditation, journaling, sitting outside, even a short nap. Earlier in the pandemic I shared my thoughts on coping with mind clutter and share many specific mind decluttering techniques you might find helpful.
Embrace your planner
One tactic that has helped me for decades to combat juggling multiple priorities, fractured time and increased interruptions is embracing my planner.
By writing everything down I am able to simple go back to my list when my mind gets off track and I need to remind myself of what needs to be done. Having your tasks written down helps you get the thoughts out from swimming in your head where you end up feeling like you are constantly treading water.
For me, a bullet-journal approach based on printables I sell in my shop mixed with handwritten pages has been the winning combination for me. I encourage you to find a planner that works for you whether it be a notebook, a journal, or calendar where you jot everything down and keep everything in one place.
At the end of the day, balance will come as you begin to declutter holistically, which means getting rid of unnecessary clutter in your home, on your calendar and in your mind. As you begin to embrace the process, you will find there is more space for you to take on all of the new rhythms with less friction and stress.
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