Whether you’re working among toddlers or teens during lockdown, it’s probably proving to be a challenge.
It might help to know that you’re by no means alone. New research reveals that 88 per cent of Australian organisations have encouraged or required employees to work from home during the coronavirus, according to Gartner HR.
“Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic has many employees planning to work in a way that they hadn’t previously considered,” Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice says.
But there are ways to make the process run a little smoother on a daily basis. It just takes a little planning and preparation to determine a schedule that works for you.
For some inspiration, here are some tips to help ensure both you and your family get through the day, as best as you can:
A daily routine
Regardless of how old your children are, it’s worth creating a daily schedule together, because routine is essential for children’s growth. Young children and teens are used to routine at school, so this provides a feeling of normalcy.
The routine can include things like school work, exercise, jobs around the house, free time and time watching television or on digital devices.
If your partner is also at home, work out how best to manage the day for each of you. For example, perhaps one parent sets up the kids to start their school day before starting their work, while the other person gets stuck into their work early. You might be able to alternate roles the next day.
You don’t always need to all have lunch together. One parent can sort lunch for the kids one day, and then alternate. Or, pack the children their normal school lunchbox and keep it in the fridge for the day ready for break times.
Set expectations as a family
Set reasonable aged-appropriate expectations for your children about the day, explaining that you will be working as well.
It’s also important to manage your own expectations for what you can achieve in a day. Prioritise what needs to be done and where you can, work in advance of what’s due.
If you’re helping kids with school work, set some expectations. Even young children are used to a school routine, so establishing a version of this at home can ensure you get some bursts of work done throughout the day.
Expecting primary-aged children to get on with a schedule that includes a couple of specific school assignments, a snack break, a break to play outside to pat the dog and then half an hour of reading could give you some valuable time to get your work done or take a break!
Include exercise during the day
Getting the whole family out for some exercise can be a great stress relief. It’s also important for young people’s physical and mental health, regardless of age. Research also shows that parental support and involvement also improves participation rates, so pull on your joggers and get out of the house for an hour.
There are plenty of online options for exercise, such as UK fitness guru, who has created daily at home workouts designed for kids.
Help kids stay connected
Kids at any age will probably be missing their friends and teachers, so looking for ways to ensure they remain connected will be important. Look out for cues from your kids during the day and make the offer to organise a call with a friend when they seem receptive to the idea.
Be sure to keep an eye on social media interactions among older children who are turning to social media to bond with friends. Hearing alarming information about COVID-19 could be mentally damaging, so encourage them to check their information from reputable sources, such as the Federal Government’s website.
It’s easy to keep working through your usual knock-off time when you’re at home. But making sure you stick to a strict work schedule is important.
Downtime is important for mental health during this global crisis. Not tending to emails late into the evening also sends the message that you’re sticking to a normal routine and not prepared to pick up extra tasks.
Use the end of the day to connect with children, cook a family meal together and tend to a few chores around the home before evening sets in. Or, enjoy some solitary time by picking up a book and taking a long bath.