Trust me, I get it—parenting and working a full-time job are both challenging tasks within themselves, but doing them together while under quarantine is a daunting reality many of us never expected to face. As the months have passed, many of us have found ourselves in a work- and learn-from-home environment: we’re managing our full-time jobs while the kids are trying to juggle their own classes and scholastic requirements now that school is back in session (and online). Productivity and motivation are things that many of us haven’t felt in a long while, and with the combination of requirements and mental fatigue, many households are left feeling exhausted, irritable, and lost. But, you’re not alone, and there are ways to make the days a bit more manageable, organized, and enjoyable! Read on to see which adjustments you can implement to give yourself (and your family) a bit of structure and peace.
SETTING REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS
It’s easy to hold yourself (and your kids) to the same standards you set before COVID was present in our everyday lives, but the truth is that you’re probably not able to complete everything in the same way you usually did pre-pandemic! Your environment has changed, your productivity is altered because of this, and a lot has happened in the world and in our own personal lives that have changed the way we receive and process information.
Give yourself some grace.
Instead of setting expectations that are a bit unreasonable for the current climate, try to measure your daily progress and achievements through the accomplishments of tasks rather than the amount of time you spend on things throughout the day. While you redefine measurements of success, you will find that there’s a lot to be proud of! Your kids can benefit from the same mindset as well—this is a new normal for them too, and they’re probably feeling just as confused and deflated as you are. When you reorient your mindset, moods shift, inspiration can flourish, and you’re able to feel a sense of normalcy by recognizing your own productivity and self-worth.
BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES, BOUNDARIES!
Setting boundaries for yourself and your kids will help in so many ways. In terms of your own work, try to prioritize focus-driven activities while the kids are still asleep and when everything is quiet. This way you can tackle the more mundane/mindless tasks as they day gains in volume (like answering emails, prepping for the next day, etc.).
When you and your kids are both feeling a lack of motivation, set some boundaries on work time itself: allow yourselves a “productivity window” where you strictly focus on the tasks at hand for 45 minutes or so. Blocking off this time for “all work and no play” will allow you to hone in your focus, and will also motivate you to get enough done so that you can take a fun break at the end of the time block. Every time you complete a window of productivity, you all can take 15 or 20 minutes to do something fun—check your phones, eat a snack, go for a quick walk around the neighborhood—anything that will allow your mind to rest and give you the fuel you need to recharge and tackle the next task on the list.
If you’re a parent that struggles with an “eager interrupter”, try to set your own boundaries by leaving a sign outside your office space, or even set a rule that a closed door means no interruptions… basically anything that will create a sense of routine and understanding for your child by setting the boundaries for yourself and for them. These rules and structures can really help to give you each your own time and space to work and reenergize as opposed to constantly be torn in different directions. Boundaries are good and healthy, and once you establish them and practice them enough, they will become routine.
MATCH YOUR OWN FAMILY STRUCTURE
It’s especially easy to be influenced by the advice of others in this digital age, but always remember that your family is unique, and it’s okay to tailor your own lifestyle to any advice you receive. Maybe your family benefits from a lot of structure (like having designated mealtimes and lists of chores), or maybe your household is filled with independent people that flourish with their own routines and schedules. Either way, having a mutual agreement that will help the overall wellbeing of your family is something that you ultimately define for yourselves, and through trial and error you’ll be able to find the structure that works best for you!