The pandemic has thrown a wrench into all of our lives, and while we are all striving to stay safe and healthy, we also face a brand new set of day to day challenges. This is especially true for working parents who no longer have the same child care resources and options they once did.
In recent months I’ve learned a few things about balancing kids, work and daily responsibilities while stuck at home. I’m running a multi-million dollar business alongside my husband, while we raise our three young children. And while we have returned to our physical workspaces to some degree (always with masks and distancing in place), we are still extremely limited in our freedom and opportunity.
While some of you may have figured out systems for making your daily lives easier, I suspect that a great many of you working parents out there are still struggling to adjust and find your personal definitions of the “new normal.” I hope my list of lessons learned through my own experience and through leading a business, is helpful as you work to create a happy, harmonious balance.
- Lean on your partner or bubble
You shouldn’t have to face this new set of unprecedented challenges alone. If you haven’t already, sit down with your partner, or with members of your “bubble” (the small, select group of individuals you’ve decided to trust with close proximity to you and your kids) and describe the hurdles you’re facing. Be forthcoming about your need for help and support. This isn’t the time to put on a brave face and try to do it all yourself. This is the time to reach out your hand and ask for what you need to stay sane.
- Ask for schedule flexibility or time off
Set an appointment with your management to discuss your personal schedule and challenges at home. Odds are, given the circumstances, they’ll be sympathetic. I know many business owners like myself who are understanding that we’re living and working in exceptional times. Many companies are now working with employees to offer flexible scheduling arrangements or reduced hours to accommodate child care duties and other personal responsibilities. And if nothing else, there’s always the option of taking some of your accrued PTO or a couple of weeks of unpaid family leave to get your personal life in better working order.
- Create a new schedule
Once you’ve corralled your support, resources and hopefully made your work schedule more flexible, you must create a brand new family schedule to align with this new normal. If you haven’t already put something physically on paper, I highly recommend it. Taking the time to let go of your expectations and hopes tied to your old schedule and old way of doing things, and form something entirely new will help to put you in the right mindset. This is how life will be for a while, and it won’t be perfect. But you can definitely create a system that works for your family for the meantime, if you’re willing to put in the time and energy.
- Make the most of newfound quality time
If there’s one positive to come out of this horrible ordeal, it’s that we’re all finding more time than ever before to spend at home with our kids, partners and loved ones. We’ve been given the gift of quality time. This should not be overlooked or taken for granted. I’ve always felt that focused attention and time is the best thing you could ever give a child – far better than any material item. Our kids are desperate to be near us, close to us, to learn from us. Let’s cherish this opportunity and make the most of it.
- Try to build in kid-free downtime
If you find the opportunity, by leveraging your partner or bubble of support, be sure to take a small amount of time on a recurring basis just for yourself. We are in the midst of a global crisis and so much has changed in our lives. In this challenging situation, you should have some time to reflect and replenish your emotional well-being and energy, whether it’s with a bath and an early bedtime or an engrossing book on a beach towel in the backyard. You deserve it.