Business on top, yoga pants on bottom, snacks in pockets
I bet three weeks ago you thought you were busy, huh? Yeah, me too. It’s a brave new world parents. I write this to you as I’ve answered the question “Can I have a snack?” for what feels like the 400th time today, while simultaneously (you know), trying to get my full-time job done.
Take a deep breath and know that you’re in good company. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center report focused on working parents with children in the home under age 18: 72% of moms are employed, either full time or part time. Among fathers with kids in the home 89% are employed full time.
So, now that we involuntarily find ourselves in this situation of working from home WITH children – how do we navigate it? I use the word navigate loosely. Of course, what I really mean is, how the hell do we make it through the day? In the following, I’ll share what I’m doing as a mom working through this crisis with children (ages 4 and 2) and a full-time working husband.
I’ll keep this short and sweet because, let’s face it, your “free” time to do anything elective is more limited than ever.
Lean on your virtual team
I did it for this blog. I couldn’t make the deadline for submission to my team, so I leaned on them to accommodate a revised deadline. I did it through transparent communication, “Here’s the situation, and here’s what I can do right now.”
You’ll be surprised how understanding, empathetic, and dependable your colleagues are now (more than ever). On the same token, don’t shy away from asking your team for help – meeting coverage, proposal support, or entertaining your kids on Zoom. Remember, it makes people feel good to help others.
Look out for yourself
If mom ain’t happy – well, you know how that goes (in my experience it goes for the dads too). Make sure you schedule one hour for yourself daily that doesn’t involve work, parenting, or other domestic responsibilities. Take a walk, write, read a book, stare at the ceiling, watch the Tiger King documentary – you get the idea.
Make it happen for your benefit and the benefit of the collective household. Just knowing you have that one hour scheduled which is dedicated to you gives you something to look forward to. Putting it on the calendar forces you to be accountable for keeping it and making yourself a priority.
Let it go
Borrowing a phrase from my favorite virtual babysitter “Elsa” here. You must let go of how you operated before COVID-19, not forever – but for right now. You’re currently on a completely different playing field. The rules aren’t the same and you’re probably not yielding the same results.
Set realistic expectations with not only yourself and your household, but also your virtual team for what you can deliver on. Being transparent in your communication is something you do have control over right now.
That’s it, parents. It’s not rocket science – but it’s intentional. My hope is that something I’ve mentioned above makes your day a little bit better. Or at the very least, you got to read this without interruptions from your new coworkers.
Hang in there, moms and dads. You’re amazing, and I see you.
Looking for best practices for collaborating virtually? Check out our online training programs.
About Allison McGuirk
Allison’s mission is to bring impactful learning to clients in a way that feels organic to their culture and values. She is passionate about establishing strategic partnerships with her clients, so that Interaction Associates can support their organization’s mission, vision, values, and talent.