Here is a list of tips that will help you cope with remote work and family at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are lucky we can work safely from our houses when new coronavirus spreads the world. But let’s face it, for those of us who have families it is not an easy time. We try to manage work, older child lessons, preparing dinner, urgent to-do’s, the younger child entertainment, cleaning, making video calls in accompaniment od “Muuum!/Daaad!”. All of it under pressure and with a sense of increasing anxiety. It can be overwhelming. Therefore below you will find a list of advice on how to organize your work while your family is also at home.
1. Make a reasonable plan
Plan each day of your family in advance. Start with asking yourself some important questions:
- Will you need quiet to focus on some important tasks, and how can you organize that (switching with your partner, cartoons for younger kind, some computer game for the older)
- Do you have a scheduled calls/videoconferences and at what hours, and how can you organize some quiet time for that
- If your partner also works from home: does he/she need some quiet for important tasks, does he/she have scheduled calls and at what time
Put it all into your calendar for each day, then think about your kids:
- Do your older kid/kids have to learn online, or do you have to do homeschooling on your own? How much of your attention will be needed?
- How demanding is your younger child?
- Are there any activities that can entertain your kids for some time (an hour, two?) Cartoons, games, puzzles, playing with play-doh, computer games?
What other activities you will need to cope with during work hours
- Preparing lunch, dinner, snack for kids/family – can you cook the meals the previous day? Is it possible to order takeaways from time to time?
- Putting a younger child for a day nap? Is your younger kid sleeping during the day, how long does it take to put to sleep?
What other activities you need to plan during the day:
- Plan meals, go shopping, cook
- Clean, wash, take care of home
- Help kids with lessons
Facing these realities upfront while drafting your initial plan of a week is crucial. As it will help you to better communicate your needs and not underestimate the challenges ahead.
2. Talk to your boss and co-workers
Let your boss and team know about the extraordinary circumstances you are facing – remote work with family at home. Explain your commitment to helping the company get through these unprecedented times, but also communicate what obstacles you will have to manage in the background. Trying to remain at the top of your game at work while also taking care of kids is unrealistic. Not only if you have younger kids, but also older may need more of your attention. It is a difficult situation for them too.
Remaining honest is the best you can do right now.
3. Slow down and rearrange priorities
If you are used to working on high revs you should learn to slow down. Your goal for the next weeks is to successfully fulfill the most important requirements of your job while also caring for your family’s physical and mental needs. Remote work with family will be a challenge, so start from rethinking work priorities. Are there any important deadlines, you have to meet anyway? Are there secondary initiatives that are no longer as important as they were previously and can be postponed? During the next few weeks focus only on the most important cases.
The same applies to your family. This is a difficult situation for everybody and being supportive and staying calm is essential. It is ok for your kids to watch a cartoon or play a computer game while you are having a videoconference or need to focus. Alike, nobody will die from eating French fries for dinner, instead of a homemade dish, once in a while.
Remember, you do not compete for the title of the “Worker of the month” and “Mum of the month”. Focus on essential things and try not to get crazy.
4. Learn to communicate right, try Non-Violent Communication
Nowadays nearly everyone feels tension and anxiety regarding COVID-19, which can be a great barrier to good communication. But not communicating effectively can bring a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings.
If you haven’t heard about it before, read about the principles of Non-Violent Communication. NVC will be helpful both with communication at work and with family. As you need even more support from your partner and kids while dealing with an unusual situation. Also if you are not used to remote work, physical isolation from your work team can raise communication problems.
Whatever it is that you need, share your thoughts and concerns early, therefore preventing problem escalation. So it is critical that you discuss each of your needs and expectations frequently.
Learn more about giving NVC feedback here.
5. Take care of yourself
Even with the best intentions in mind, you won’t be able to control the situation if your needs aren’t meet. That is why it is essential to take care of your physical and mental health. In upcoming days focus on strengthening your immune system. Remember about the right amount of sleep, healthy food, and staying hydrated. You can also use some dietary supplements like zinc and acerola cherry (high in vitamin C) in order to have more power. Also, remember about your mental health, try stress-reduction techniques, like deep breathing and meditation, and once in a while find time reserved only for yourself. Take a relaxing bath with some calming essential oils, or watch a favorite movie on a Saturday evening.
It won’t be easy to incorporate all of these into your schedule in the coming weeks, but it’s worth trying. You can also try these 10 ways to feel better at work techniques, and learn anxiety calming techniques.
6. Accept the reality and translate it into something good
It’s time to agree that COVID-19 is pushing all of us into a corner. All we can do is to accept reality. We need to do remote work with family at home, and it’s time to deal with it. New coronavirus pandemy is a tragedy, but it also opens up new opportunities.
Until now, we were wasting a lot of time traveling to and back from work, going to clients and attending useless meetings. Now we are forced to work remotely, which results in focusing only on essential tasks at work and spending more time at home with our families. We can take advantage of that and elaborate on a better work-life balance.
Also, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that being happy is associated with a better immune system. In one of the studies, researchers Sheldon Cohen and his colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University infected 334 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 54 years with rhinovirus (which causes the common cold). Their results showed that volunteers who were happier and exposed to positive emotions were less likely to get ill. Also smiling, even if you don’t feel like it, can raise your mood, and make you feel more optimistic about the future.
Those are difficult times for all of us. However, everyone who has the possibility to work safely from home and take care of the family may also experience gratitude. Consequently, next time you feel like the world is on your shoulders think about all these people who work in the front line, risking their health and lives for us. Sometimes all we need to feel better is a change of perspective.