I love my kids (and I’m sure you love yours) but nothing could have prepared us work-from-home parents for having our littles around 24/7 while schools across the nation are closed.
Every parent can relate to this newscaster right now.
If you weren’t used to working from home in the first place, please don’t let this madness ruin the experience. Normally, working from home is awesome.
There’s no commute, I get my own office, and I have more time to spend with my kids before dropping them off at school. We cuddle in bed, have breakfast together, laugh a lot and argue about whether they really have to wear a coat because it’s not that cold out, mom.
Those moments are precious and irreplaceable.
But, here’s the thing. I usually drop them off. They go away for a few hours and I’m left at peace in my office. My kids are out of sight and out of mind. Ok, not really out of mind. But gone for enough time where I can actually get my work done.
So now, with three screaming kids who aren’t accustomed to being home schooled, a barking dog and piles of laundry building up, my only mission is to keep my sanity until we get back to business as usual. Here’s what works for me.
Figure out your money generating activities and do them. There’s a business management concept called the Pareto principle. It says that 20% of activities cause 80% of outcomes. Figure out what 20% of work drives most of your business and focus on doing that well. This isn’t the time to test out new projects or open a new social media account. Do what brings in the big bucks. The rest is just fluff and, at this point, only doing essentials is enough.
You are not going to be as productive as normal. Accept it. Be as productive as you can.Get the essentials out of the way while they’re sleeping or distracted. Treat the rest as a bonus. No use beating yourself up when you’re doing two jobs at once.
Communicate limits and consequences. Even though you’re technically right there, your kids need to understand that you aren’t available to play superhero magic fun-house until after you’re done with essential tasks. Communicate this early and often.
Pay yourself back time. There’s gonna be long nights. Sometimes shit has to get done and you’re the one to do it. Just make sure that you get that time back as soon as possible. If you’re up until 2am one night, maybe it’s your partner’s turn to get the kids out of bed the next morning.Or if you’re in meetings all morning, you might take a long walk in the afternoon. Find balance. Burning out in the middle of the chaos won’t do anybody good.
Delegate and outsource. Repeat after me. Not everything is my job, not everything is my problem. It’s ok to let someone else do the work. Delegating and outsourcing tasks both at work and at home is vital to staying afloat.Ask yourself: Is it urgent? Is it important? Then use this handy little matrix to figure out what to do.
Lead by example. This is the hardest thing to do as a parent, but it’s also the most important. In a time of so much panic, we’re the ones who get to show our kids what it means to stay centered. Stay calm, prioritize, and kick ass!
Be ok with the mess. It’s a stressful time. There will be dishes that don’t get cleaned and emails that don’t get answered. Deep breaths.This mess doesn’t say anything about you or your family, other than, “Hey, you’re human!” There will be time after the storm to re-organize your kitchen. Right now, it’s about making it through. You got this.
The silver lining to all of this is that we get the rare chance to spend more time with our families. Practicing gratitude is important, as is maintaining balance and boundaries. There’s no way to do this perfectly, but we are capable of so much! Hold your head up high, find joy in the little things, and move forward the best you can.
If you’re a working parent struggling right now, feel free to reach out. We’re in this together.
Errin Weisman, DO is a life coach, speaker and fierce advocate for wellness in medicine. She faced professional burnout early in her career and speaks openly about about her story in order to help others, particularly female physicians and working moms, know they are not alone. Dr. Weisman wholeheartedly believes to be a healer, you must first fill your own cup. She lives and practices in rural Southwestern Indiana, loves her roles as farmer’s wife, athlete and mother of three. You can find out more about Dr. Weisman on her podcast “Doctor Me First,” her website truthrxs.com or hang out with her on social media @truthrxs.