Rebecca’s survival guide to working from home with children during lockdown
To set the scene I have twins, a boy and a girl who’ve recently turned 3 years old. They don’t yet go to nursery or school, so are fairly used to homelife. Seven weeks ago, I was told to ‘work from home for the foreseeable future’. My husband was then struck down with the Coronavirus mid-March, so you could say my perfect working routine, was turned upside down!
My already overactive mind went from, ‘how am I going to cope?’, fighting tiredness each day, craving my old and familiar routine to return, to now living in what I’d say is a calm and enjoyable home environment. Here’s how I have adapted my working days and managed to turn the scary lockdown situation that many parents face into one that works for me:
Dress for the occasion
After being abruptly woken up early to “Mummy, I need a wee!”, one of the first decisions of my day is deciding whether I put on my work outfit, or my mummy outfit, as technically I’ll be doing both. But what I don’t do is to stay in my pyjamas and work, that’s a big no no! Firstly, I’ll be a laughingstock appearing in my many Zoom meetings, and secondly, getting myself suitably dressed helps me feel like I’m going to work, although my pink slippers will remain on my feet and well hidden!
Establishing a routine will not only help you, but it’ll also help your children settle into this new way of living. Being a parent means lie-ins are a thing of the past, however this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you can get yourself an early night (anyone who knows me knows I cannot function past 9pm!). Being an event organiser means planning comes naturally to me, so I find the second I wake my mind is in gear planning out the day, which usually works around what our ever-changeable British weather is doing! Which leads nicely onto my next point…
Before you begin work set out 3 or 4 activities that kids can happily do on their own. Don’t expect these activities to last all morning, just 10-20 mins but do this before you begin work so you’re interrupted less. If this can be in a separate room, or garden, you’ll reap the benefits of better concentration.
Most young ones won’t understand why they’re being kept indoors all day, not seeing family or friends, so make it easier on them by encouraging their creative side and make a rainbow poster for your window in support of our wonderful NHS and key workers. This should keep them occupied while you tackle a couple of emails!
Children need exercise, daily. If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden, make an obstacle course, we’ve turned ours into a mini playground, or go out to a secluded spot for our one-hour allowed exercise time. Try to do this before you start work when it’s quieter so there’s less chance of meeting others, you’ll also feel in a better frame of mind to begin work.
Have lots of snacks ready
For you and the children. I’ve lost count of the number of times my twins demand food throughout the day; this morning my son wanted lunch at 10:30am! I’ve been using up our Easter Egg stock, think we’ll be okay for a few more weeks!
Involve them in your Zoom chats
We’re all in the same boat, and whether we chose to sink or swim pretty much everyone who has children, or looks after little ones will know they don’t sit still for more than two minutes, so let them see your colleagues, who knows what the future holds for them, they could be the next legend in the events world, so start them young.
Have a regular working space
If you don’t have a dedicated office, don’t be tempted to follow the children around the house by moving from the sofa one day, to the dining room table the next (or bathroom if you choose!). Sticking to the same spot means you’re showing your children where mummy’s working spot is.
Don’t stress about the mess!
Yesterday I walked into the living room, every toy box was turned upside down, books flung on the floor, sofa cushions piled up to build a tower, and two children excitedly running around naked! I, somehow managed to keep my calm, took a deep breath, and went and boiled the kettle!
Take some deep breaths to focus on the moment. I find doing some yoga each day really helps to focus my mind and bring me into the present day; my mind is constantly thinking of what I need to do next, or how I shouldn’t have done or said something in the past. Yoga is also a great exercise to do with children, or pets! They can do as little, or as much as they wish. Pick a few poses, like downward dog, call them what you like…and breathe.
Enjoy some quality family time
One of the best bits for me having this time out of the office has been to spend some quality time with my family. Life as a parent can be tough at times, but it’s also very rewarding, so I regularly remind myself to think how lucky I am to be with my family and not stuck on some hot, overcrowded, delayed train!
Stay at home, stay safe, protect our invaluable NHS and save lives.