The Covid-19 global pandemic has touched everyone and caused an effect on each and every aspect of our lives. Now everyone who is practising social distancing is facing a massive change to their social and working lives. Sure, it’s true that working parents are used to the juggling act of balancing childcare responsibilities with their professional obligations (not an easy feat), but even they are in unprecedented waters. So, who’s sinking and who’s keeping afloat?
If you need any advice, please check out the Government’s website on Coronavirus for all the latest information and support.
Let’s start with the basics, the nuts and bolts of the operation. For those people who are able to shift their job to a remote setting, how do you even get set up initially? Maybe you’re someone who’s been based offsite in your role previously, and so how do you continue with your job now stationed at home?
Your office space. That’s a great place to start. If you’re a remote working pro, then you may already have a separate study, you may even have a beautiful potted plant adorned beside it. But for a novice it’s a different story – they may be settling for a corner of the kitchen table, or a laptop in bed, or squeezed on the sofa surrounded by Lego!
Then there’s the equipment itself. The availability of devices for the entire household’s quarantined lifestyle may require you to share laptops and tablets, not always easy for a busy professional. Again, seasoned pros have their own setup, maybe even a Mac (or two!), but many households are now begging for their iPads back amongst cries of “can I just finish this level on Minecraft, Mum?!”
Couple these challenges with the strength of your household’s Wi-Fi signal (now gasping for breath under the highest pressure it’s ever had to face) and that client who you need to Zoom call but you’ve nowhere quiet (and clutter-free) to do it…and you can begin to appreciate how ‘getting started’ already feels like you’ve run a small marathon.
Working from home ordinarily comes with the need to be completely self-motivated, organised and committed in order to have any hope of doing your job. But under self-isolation ruling, this means pushing yourself to limits you never knew you had.
Everyone is at home – kids, partners, possible extended family and the pets – means more noise, more distraction, and a much harder environment in which to perform and function, let alone shine and excel.
Deadlines still need to be met, launches that weren’t postponed still need work to execute, assignments still need completing, new business still needs to besought after and your social media pages still need content. Oh, and your boss is still expecting a certain amount of creativity too.
So, in the midst of Play-Doh sculptures, Geometry homework, Paw Patrol episodes and teenagers on FaceTime, it’s time to try to be alert, focused and work hard.
And that’s where the emotional side of this current situation has undoubtedly become one of the biggest struggles to contend with for so many families living and working through this situation.
The growth of modern technology has certainly provided working parents with a ton of resources to make certain aspects of life easier. Schools have been able to facilitate distance learning much easier for children now home-schooling, online gaming and social apps can keep the family entertained for hours, and Netflix’s surge in profits is basically self-explanatory!
But, whilst this is all great, and let’s face it a saving grace for mums and dads, it brings about huge amounts of guilt too. Your child’s raucous laughter on Houseparty with their friends gives you time to finish off that marketing plan, but there’s also the worry that perhaps they’ve had too much ‘screen-time’ and should now get themselves outside for fresh air.
Have you provided them with enough of a variety of activities? Should you be baking cakes, instead of composing emails? Reading stories instead of reading reports?You may have been previously accustomed to long stints of work with only a strong coffee as your buddy, but now you are forced to take time away for proper lunches and (usually endless amounts of) snacks.
The emotional guilt of working and giving your family the time they deserve plays strong, and in this heightened time of uncertainty and concern, it’s the voice in your head that often won’t disappear…until the kids go to bed!
This period of staying at home means that getting that important ‘me-time’ (so vital for parents) is really hard to do, if not impossible.
For now, the coffee with your pal, that movie night with friends, trips to the pub, dinners out, are all on hold for the foreseeable future – and that takes away the opportunity for proper downtime.
During this time, working parents are trying to be creative with how they relax – a quick soak in the tub, a virtual coffee and chat through Skype, or a moment of silent meditation – it’s important to make time to destress, find calm and embrace the positivity.
The Silver Lining
And there’s always a silver lining to everything. Sometimes you have to look a bit deeper, but it’s generally always there. This is the time to think about what you have got, rather than what’s been closed/banned.
There’s never been a greater time to embrace this time with your family. Sure, you’re all stuck under one roof together, and they may drive you crazy at times (!),but finding the ways you can appreciate your loved ones during this time and being thankful for them is important.
Actually being together, around one table, for all your daily meals can be a cherished time. Those conversations, that laughter, those moments are invaluable. Your time to go out every day for exercise may feel like almost a government-enforced activity, but it’s time you may never have had before and families should be thankful that they can unite and spend that time outdoors together.
Working parents have found that the time with their family is better quality too. Whilst it’s a struggle to remain productive while entertaining children and running the household, it means you begin to re-evaluate your work-life balance. Time at work is condensed concentration, and when your computer switches off that’s the time to be with your family, and actually BE with them.
No school runs, no outdoor commitments, glorious springtime weather and a widespread sense of community spirit and togetherness: this is a time to gain perspective about what’s important in life and what’s worth rushing back to once ‘normal life’ resumes. The Coronavirus has indeed brought darkness and tragedy for thousands across the world, but it can also bring hope, light and positive changes.
Stay safe, stay home and stay positive. We’re all this together.