So many people have used lockdown to share hints and tips either to help us work from home, or homeschool our children. Those tips will be sought after for a long time to come, I feel, as we all face an uncertain future when it comes to our work as well as our kids’ education.
I’m a little bit ‘alternative’, though, so this article is all about my top 7 tips for when you have to handle both dramas at once. In other words, those times when you’re trying your best to keep your business alive, yet also have a responsibility to ensure your offspring retain some level of consciousness, too.
Do these tips make me Career Mum of the Year? No, but I’ve been doing this dance long enough, having become unexpectedly pregnant literally weeks after ditching my full-time job in education to run my own business. Oh, how my mother had a field day with all of that…
Anyway. Let’s see if any of these 7 tips can help you balance working from home – with kids – during whatever happens next for us all:
- Give yourself a totally shallow feeling of control in this global cock-up, by fashioning a large colourful work chart, complete with Post-Its, tick boxes, and spaces to make fun little notes that outline all the things that you need to be doing for work.
- Take your big beautiful chart and set fire to it. Best laid plans only work if there isn’t a cabin-fevered child around to utterly destroy them. Go ahead and save them a job. Your to-do list is now a distant dream at best, and a complete joke at worst.
- Much as you always said you’d never be that parent who plonked their kid down in front of the TV or iPad by way of hoping to keep them entertained and/or quiet, you’re going to have to suck it up. The good thing on this occasion is that there are actually some great things getting uploaded or streamed live that are specifically designed to entertain kids of all ages during lockdown, with everything being featured from exercise to art, and music to magic. This is your chance to throw your kids down in front of a screen and not feel guilty – yey! You’re practically Parent of the Year when it comes to enrichment…
- It’s a bit ‘out there’, but quit your job! They say that parenthood is a full-time job in itself. Have a look into doing that for a living instead. I hear it pays really well, providing you don’t want to be paid in money, that is.
- Perhaps a tad more ‘out there’… quit parenthood! I’m sure there’s some kind of shelter you can leave the kids at. Perhaps leave them with a half-arsed note of apology, a blanket, and a box of their favourite snacks or something. People do it all the time with dogs, and we always totally forgive them.*
- Serious one now – just let your kids ‘be’ in the background of your calls and videos. Everyone really is in the same boat right now, so they can’t be surprised – and they certainly can’t be annoyed – that you alternate talk of “strategic objectives” with off-camera yells of “In a MINUTE!” Seriously, you may as well just let your kids ‘happen’, because the more you try to control the situation, the less you’ll actually succeed.
- Accept that whilst this is all a bit dire that you now have responsibility for educating or even caring for your kid rather than have them take their rightful place in school or nursery as you work your behind off at home, they ARE your children, and much as they’re irritating, ungrateful and inconvenient even on the days that you actually plan to spend with them, they need you right now, and they deserve to have your time. Yes, you have to work to keep them warm, fed and clothed, but you’ll have to pick your battles, so accept that you’re more likely to get some quality work done if neither you or your offspring are feeling stressed or crazed. Go ahead, dig out the Lego/ Playstation/ glitter and glue. Actually, don’t dig out the glitter. That stuff is evil.
I’m sorry that this blog wasn’t exactly like reading from the diaries of a domestic goddess, and that none of the suggestions involved anything that will massively help develop your business or your baby (whatever their age), but hopefully, they’ll help you keep some of your sanity and retain some of the calm that you might just need in your house whilst you’re working from home, seeing as you’re now a prisoner within it.
Stay safe, stay realistic.
*We really DON’T forgive them.