Being a working parent is hard. Being a remote-working parent, whose child sits next to you all day is harder. Being a remote-working parent, whose child not only sits next to you, but requires home-schooling is not only hard, but tiring. Burn out is real, but we have some tips to help make your day easier.
Structure is important
Without thinking twice about it, our life pre-pandemic was more about structure. We usually had set times every day to finish tasks – mornings included getting ready for work, packing lunches and getting the kids to school, most of our days were taken up at work. Evenings were often spent at home, enjoying family time.
Now we have the same amount of time, but less structure… Keeping some sort of structure is especially important – it not only helps us mentally but gives us a sense of life as we know it. Try to find a schedule that works for you and your family, one that prioritises everyone’s needs.
Flexibility is essential
While this may sound contradictory to our first point, flexibility and structure go hand-in-hand. While maintaining some sort of semblance of normal life is important, we now have X amount of hours that we can use as we please. With many companies now offering flexible arrangements, as a working parent you can often create your own hours of work.
Some days are busier than others, some will have more tantrums, some will have crises that require immediate action, some have sick children, and others have important board meetings. The beauty of flexibility is that you can work around the more important (and less flexible) parts of your day as you see fit. Just be sure to remember flexibility works both ways for both you and your company. Making up for lost hours and staying flexible yourself is just as important.
Technology is not the enemy
We’ve heard it everywhere – children’s screen-time needs to be limited. While we do agree on this, let’s face the fact that iPads, television, and movies are great distractions for kids of all ages. Do not feel guilty for using these tools to occupy your kids for a couple of hours to get the bigger stuff out of the way.
A happy medium would be keeping track of screen time and making up for it on days when the household is quieter. Download educational apps, find movies with great messages, and make the most of this time in your work schedule. Technology is there to be used to everyone’s advantage.
Prioritize your work TOO
Keep in mind that you are not only a parent or care-giver, you are also a manager, a writer, an engineer and your professional development also matters. We know it can get tough – kids seem to need and want at all times. We also know that colleagues and places of work are very understanding to these situations, but even with the most understanding people, some aspects of work require your full focus and undivided attention.
Speak to your children and let them know that during a certain time, you cannot be disturbed. Try putting shoes in front of your door, or a string around a doorknob. This will be your ‘do not disturb’ sign. Make sure you can still see or hear what they are doing for the sake of safety but creating boundaries will make everyone’s life easier.
Be kind to yourself
One of the more important points in our tips is to really check in with yourself – carve out some alone time to destress, regroup and reprioritize. You are not a bad parent because you fed your child chicken nuggets for lunch 3 times in a week, and you are not a bad employee because you missed a deadline by a few hours. We wouldn’t even call these things mistakes – they’re simply a part of our life.
With remote work and home-schooling, there is no way of picking which one is more of a priority but do keep in mind that your job is just as important as your child’s schooling. Wearing the right hat at the right time is key.