Juggling parenting and work can be challenging at the best of times. But throw in a global pandemic and nationwide lockdown, and things start to get really tricky! Suddenly we have to find a way to work efficiently from home with the kids around.
Perhaps one of the most reassuring things to hear right now is: you are not alone! In fact, the very same group of SENSE members who will be hosting a panel session on mixing parenting and professional life at the SENSE2020 online conference on 3-5 June are now on hand to share their advice on managing the current crisis. So sit back, pour yourself a glass of wine, and read on for some top tips…
Find a schedule that works for you
There is no right way to manage a lockdown. Every family will face different situations and have different needs. But it might help to hear how others are structuring their day. Here’s what our parenting team has to say:
'Make a schedule at the start of the day with your kids and your partner. If there’s a fixed time when you need to be in a video conference with a client, let the rest of the family know. And if your partner has a time when he/she cannot be disturbed, make sure they’re not disturbed by running interference with the kids.' (Curtis Barrett)
'I am alone with my two boys because my husband was called into the army. I get up before the kids to fit in some work, but give them my full attention when they wake up. We do ‘schoolwork’ together and then we do an arts and crafts project or play a game for a few hours. After that, I explain that I need to work and shouldn't be interrupted (I’ve relaxed my rules on screen time to help with this). I try to get around four hours of work done before we go outside to play.' (Claire Bacon)
'What works for us is setting clear boundaries on "work time" versus "family time", so our coworkers know when they can reasonably expect us to respond to issues and emails. (My husband and I both work in-house, which comes with a slightly different set of expectations than freelancing.) We each get half a day to work upstairs and theoretically undisturbed, while the other cares for the children. We get up at our regular time and have breakfast together, then my husband goes upstairs to work until lunchtime. Lunch is usually a moment for the two of us to catch up, since the kids have theirs a little earlier. After that, we "switch hats" for the afternoon: I'm off to the attic while my husband corrals the kids until dinnertime. Depending on our workload and deadlines, we'll designate one or two evenings a week to work for another few hours, but we know it's important to have downtime too.' (Ashley Cowles)
'I’m in a different position (mainly because I’m in the fortunate position of not having children of school age yet) and can therefore offer another perspective of what could work. I’m the main breadwinner in the house, and my wife is still on maternity leave, so there’s no tag- teaming when it comes to work. This means she mostly looks after our 18-month-old and 5-month-old during the day while I work. I get up with our eldest so my wife can sleep for a bit longer. Then I broadly stick to a 9-to-5 routine. I’m upstairs in my office and the three of them are downstairs in the living room or kitchen. Then when I’m done for the day, one of us will cook dinner. After dinner, I get the eldest ready for bed and take her upstairs. Then, after which we generally get the evening together to chill out (as much as one can with a 5-month-old, anyway). I go out for a run every two or three days around this time.' (Lloyd Bingham)
'Most of us are used to working at home, but not necessarily with our the entire household there as well. So try to make sure your work day doesn’t start before 9 and doesn’t go past 5.' (Curtis Barrett)
For more tips and tricks, be sure to check back for part two later this month!