There’s a new reality for many moms and dads who have the luxury of working from home. The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted life in most aspects, and parents of children under 18 are disproportionately affected, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Parents have become teachers, full-time caregivers and household managers. The challenges are tough for any mom or dad, and when you’re working from home, it’s even harder dividing your energy between work and family responsibilities.
Here’s help to organize a plan, reduce stress and move toward balance.
Set up a workspace
Physical boundaries between work and your personal life can feel nonexistent when you work from home, so it’s important to section off an area in your home for a defined workspace or office. Set up a home office in a corner of the dining room, renovated closet or guest bedroom. Locate your office outside your bedroom if possible so that you can commute to work away from your most personal space. Avoid distractions such as TV or radio.
Create a family calendar
A calendar can include home-school activities, a chore chart for the kids, bill-paying dates, family birthdays and anniversaries. Include a list of things you need or will be needing in the next couple of weeks. Try to buy your supplies online in advance vs going out to the store.
Set up time blocks for specific tasks
The division of time between family and business can be challenging. Concentrating your full attention on each task can be difficult throughout the day’s distractions. Establish your priorities by marking off specific times on the schedule that you devote to your to-dos. Then stick to them.
Young children? Switch off
If you and your significant other are both home, you can switch off caregiving with your partner so you both still have dedicated time to work.
Although the notion of staying in your PJs can be tempting, changing into work clothes can boost your productivity. You don’t have to wear a suit, of course, but putting on the casual work outfit you would normally wear will help get you to focus.
It’s important to remember that you still need to take breaks. Don’t work nonstop for long periods. Get up every hour and stretch. Walk around. Eat a proper lunch. Find ways to exercise while practicing social isolation. Go for walks and take care to stay a minimum of six feet away from others. Ride a bike. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, go outside and play catch with your children.
Spend time with your partner
Remember to take care of your relationship with your partner. While you won’t be going out for date nights, you can still carve out time to focus on connecting with each other. Have an indoor date night by sharing a glass of wine while cooking a meal and talking.
Create special family nights.
Making time for your kids is crucial to nurture your family. Try to avoid multitasking when spending time with your children. Plan a family night with board games or movies. It doesn’t really matter what you do; doing it together will make the night special.
Let go of the guilt
Your role as a wage earner contributing to your family is especially important when businesses are closing their doors and laying off workers. As you focus on the priorities of the moment, you’ll face good days and bad days. Don’t lose sight of your value to your partner and your children.