- Posted by Jon Harju
- On May 27, 2020
After several weeks of living in the new normal, we’ve seen entire organizations adopt remote working while provinces declare the closure of schools for the remainder of the academic year. Many working parents are now being called upon to juggle the roles of employee, parent, and educator in some cases – a task that is certainly no picnic in the park.
Adjusting to a remote work environment has been difficult enough for some, but for many working parents, the added demand of being a 24/7 parent can feel overwhelming at times. Physical distancing measures can restrict parents in hiring help, and with 53% of Canadians living paycheque to paycheque – they can’t afford to take time off work either.
The realities of remote working while parenting
Many working parents experience guilt as they face the challenge of wanting to be something to everyone. But these familiar struggles are now exacerbated and growing daily. The challenge of not being able to be both the employee and parent that you want to be coupled with children of all ages requiring attention and help in different ways throughout the day, resulting in a constant division of your time and attention.
How can working parents make this work?
When you’ve suddenly become a full-time employee and full-time parent, there is no right way to work from home with children. Communication, support and creativity in approaching your daily tasks are essential to making this work best for you.
To help you navigate this unfamiliar territory, we share 6 helpful approaches that help ease the stress of working from home with your children.
- Start as you mean to go on with honest communication.
A good starting point is to set up communication within your own household. Coordinate with your partner and work schedules to decide on who can take on certain responsibilities during certain blocks of time. Consider sharing this with your team to inform them of your situation and how you are structuring your day best – to be the most productive. Being upfront and honest will help manage everyone’s expectations.
- Find your support system both at work and home.
Start the workplace conversation on how everyone is dealing with the current reality. Reach out to your colleagues who are working at home with kids, too, as this will help highlight and normalize working parents’ realities and allow everyone to feel less isolated in what they have to manage.
Lean on your partner, family, and friends for help. They may be able to FaceTime and chat with your children to give you extra time to finish a project or pick up something for you at the grocery store or just be a much-needed listening ear.
- A creative and flexible schedule can help get the work done.
If deadlines become overwhelming alongside parental obligations, communicate this to your team. Look for creative solutions that everyone can work with that can help optimize the times you do have to work. This may mean someone takes over some of your work, and you take over some of theirs. Pencil out your optimal time for working when your kids are napping or enjoying independent play.
- You can’t please everyone.
No doubt, there will be times when you feel pressured to work at a certain pace or adhere to a timeline that’s just not feasible for you with your children at home. The reality is that you can’t please everyone. As you navigate your day, keep in mind that you can only do your best, and the decisions you make aren’t always going to be the most popular choice. Be kind to yourself and understand that you may need to re-organize your priorities once or twice throughout the day to get things done.
- Go easy on each other.
Working from home poses certain challenges, and now more than ever, it should be accepted and acknowledged that kids, pets, spouses and so forth will be most likely making noise in the background of your calls, despite the intent that you did your best to keep noise to a minimum. Always strive to go easy on each other. And, not just right now, but in the future too.
- Adopt a positive mindset to benefit your health.
Thoughts such as, “This extra time I get to spend with my kids is a gift” or “This experience will make me stronger” will help you stay positive when the going gets tough. Some days may be more difficult than others, so maintaining a positive attitude will allow you to build the coping and resilience skills, to carry on, and creatively utilize your resources. Positivity comes with a wide range of health benefits such as:
- Greater cardiovascular and immune health
- Increased life span
- Decreased rates of depression
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed when faced with the daunting task of being a full-time parent while working remotely, but positive reframing can change your daily perspective. However, if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or self-harming behaviours like alcohol or drug abuse, please reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional for the help and support you need.
Finally – make sure you get the ample rest you need.
Research shows that our brain functions better when it has time to rest and reset. Whether you take a break to embrace a little meditation, yoga or movement, or even just take a moment to be screen-free totally, it’s important to model this behaviour for your children. If you are a single parent, it may feel that you cannot indulge in this luxury, but please remember that self-care is not a luxury, it is a requirement for your mental health and well-being.