With many schools now closed, and many employees now mandated to work remotely from home, juggling childcare and work just became a challenge many never thought they would have to face.
Simply ‘fitting everything in’ is a struggle for many, but the additional pressure we put on ourselves to maintain quality or even go above and beyond in our work and parenting risks impacting our wellbeing.
We’ve put together a few small tips and tricks we hope with help relieve this pressure, control the controllable and help you maintain balance and perspective during this period.
Explain it to your children
No matter what age they are, your children will know “something” is going on. Sharing age-appropriate information about the current situation will help them understand why things are a bit different, broadening their understanding and experience of change, responsibility and sacrifice, and absolve you of responsibility to keep up pre-COVID routines and activities. Beyond Blue provide some great conversation tips for children of different ages, as does The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.
Block out personal and professional time in your calendar
This should include separate periods for meetings/video calls and short “bursts” for the emails and solo work for maximum efficiency. Depending on the number of carers in your household and the age of your children, it may be difficult or impossible to separate yourself from your children for any length of time. If possible, create a complementary schedule with other care-giver(s) in your household, alternating your ‘work shifts’. If you’re on your own, don’t push yourself to spend every moment and do every activity with your children – where age-appropriate, this is an opportunity for them cultivate freedom and independence by learning how to entertain themselves.
Create a designated workspace
Find a space in your home where privacy during meetings or phone calls can be ensured, and boundaries your children can respect. Keeping this area smart and clean will help put you in the right mindset for work and maintain your professional persona on video calls. No one should be worried about what their colleagues think of their homes right now, but creating a virtual backdrop for your video calls might also help relieve this pressure.
Dress for comfort
Jumping between work and childcare doesn’t have to mean jumping in and out of sweatpants and suits. Again, you may want to maintain a professional appearance on video calls, but dark, plain, comfortable staples will do the trick and work for childcare and housework, too.
Build time in for fun – with your colleagues and your children
Allocating a manageable amount of time every day to more social activities may feel like a chore in the first instance and a hard part of your routine to stick to when other priorities arise, but it will pay big dividends in the long term. Routinely playing a quick, repeatable game every day or once a week with your team at work, a friend, and your children will be soup for the soul and help you maintain and build relationships without having constant pandemic-centric conversations.
This write-up was adapted from an article by SuperFriend, a national mental health foundation helping workplaces promote and support improved mental health and wellbeing for their employees and customers. Learn more at superfriend.com.au.
For additional resources on maintaining mental health during COVID-19, including guidance on conducting your own wellbeing self check-in, refer to SuperFriend’s COVID-19 Support Guide.