Yes we can!
I wrote a year ago of the difficulties I face combining studying in such an engaging environment and my home life with two small kids (aged two and four). Well, if I thought I had it hard then (taking kids to daycare and working for 8-10 hours physically at school) I had no idea how hard it would be this spring due to Coronavirus. COVID-19 affects all of us in different ways. And for most, it brings new challenges of carrying life on as somewhat normal. For me, on top of all the isolation, worrying of someone from my family getting infected and not having much possibilities of having any me-time, I now need to work and study from home while my kids are there too. As we work in teams, there is little what I can do solely myself and not consider anyone else’s timetables. My free time starts around 18 pm when my husband gets home from work and already at that point, even with no studying done, I’m pretty much done for the day. So, at that hour I should have the energy and get working. Sounds and feels quite impossible.
Basically, working eight hours a day gets me the credits I need in order to be on schedule of my studies. So, hypothetically if I have to make every meal of the day, feed the kids, play with them and take them outing once or twice daily, do household work and put the kids to bed, how on earth can I focus on my studies for eight hours a day? Or even a couple of hours of meetings and such in the middle of the day?
I for one need support in “surviving” from this situation. And to my knowledge, I’m not the only one! Here are seven tips picked from Duunitori, how to get working from home manageable with kids!
- Benefit the calm hours of the day. This means nap times. Unfortunately. Also, now that commuting basically isn’t happening, if there is a chance to wake up early to work before the kids awake, use the possibility!
- Remain the routines. These are most likely the first ones to let go, as there is a chance to sleep later, go outing whenever it suits you the best and stay up later (because there isn’t necessarily a need to wake up early). Routines may also be the most important guidelines to make the days pass by more fluently. Not only does it clear the course of the day for you regarding deadlines to be met, meetings and such, but it also clarifies the course of the day for the kids. They will more likely build understanding when parents need quiet to work and when is the free time starts.
- Remember to keep breaks. When working at home, it is easy to fall under a mode, where work is handled at every hour and this doesn’t result in either effectiveness or distinct working. You might want to try focusing solely on working for 45 minutes and after that focusing solely on your kids. This time can be used for playing together, reading a book or such! This way these two won’t overlap as easily and your mind will be focused on one thing at a time.
- Offer your kids some sensible activity that requires focusing. Some activities that have proven to be good and time consuming for smaller kids can be handicrafts, building legos or puzzles. These are also activities where adults are not so absolute to take part in.
- Increase screen time (or at least plan accordingly). Though there is reason behind limiting children’s screen time, don’t be too absolute in times like these. Where normal life requires flexibility, this may as well be included. Before an important meeting, start a movie for the kids. But, be careful that this will not become the only activity for the children while you are occupied!
- Take turns with your spouse. If you are in a position, where another adult lives and works home with you, set up shifts for you two. You may want to divide the day into a morning and afternoon shift, which allows you both to work focused for a couple of hours during the day.
- Separate work and free time. If it is hard to get all the work done during the scheduled hours and the working is more like scraping bits from here and there, it might be extremely distressing to leave the work “halfway”. But, if these steps help you work more effectively during those few hours, the urge to work around the day may decrease. And if it seems hard to unwind off work, go outing straight after finishing your work. The fresh air and exercise will help in letting go of the thoughts concentrated on work and help release energy. Both in children and adults!
Because this is a very abnormal situation for pretty much everyone, what we can do is trust that each one of us is doing their best to cope with it. Understanding very different life situations helps finding the best solutions to working together. Whereas others need more support, others might need more space. Communication also at this time is a key factor to successful teamwork and the better we can adjust to very different working methods, the better we can focus our energy on important tasks.
Mäkelä, A. 2020. Etätöissä ja lapset kotona? 7 vinkkiä, joilla työskentely onnistuu myös kotikonttorilla. Duunitori.fi. Luettu 5.5.2020. https://duunitori.fi/tyoelama/etatyo-lapset-kotona
Ojala-Oksala, J. 2020. Työn ja perheen yhteensovittaminen kotitoimistolla poikkeusoloissa. Heltti.fi. Luettu 5.5.2020. https://heltti.fi/tyon-ja-perheen-yhteensovittaminen-kotitoimistolla-poikkeusoloissa/