Many people are finding themselves having to adjust to working from home. For many, this is very unfamiliar territory and it can be difficult to set routines and remain productive at home.
Although a challenge in itself, for some people, getting work done within your home can be difficult for other reasons. Many people live with their families which can be problematic when work is introduced into the household, and especially with young children who might need, or want, your attention more frequently.
Here are some tips to help you manage your children during lockdown which can help you work more effectively from home.
– Lead by example
It is important to acknowledge that whilst this change in circumstances can be difficult for your children to adjust to, this is also an incredibly difficult time for you as well. We all crave stability- children and adults- and we seek stability even more in times of ambiguity. However, children look to adults to model their behaviour on- especially when they’re unsure of how they should react. Remain calm and be aware of your actions and the words you’re using. Understand the way that you are feeling through self-reflection and use this to ease the minds of your children.
– Make the most of your time together
Due to these worrying and uncertain times it is easy to slip into a spiral of negative thoughts and anxiety, with many people gluing themselves to their televisions for news updates. Whilst it is normal to experience worry, we have also been given more time to spend with our families. It is incredibly rare to have most family members all in the house at the same time. I encourage people to make the most of this time they have together. Appreciate one another and participate in bonding exercises such as reading to your children, playing board games or baking together.
– Stick to a routine
Many people who are finding themselves working from home for the first time can easily slip into bad habits, just as children can during the school holidays. It’s important to stick to a routine that replicates the working week (or for children, the school week). Set activities with start and end times, and with regular breaks scheduled. Factor in time for exercise and down time. Whilst the children are busy, you can make the most of the time to get on with your work whilst still enjoying ‘family time’ that has been put aside during the evening.
– Keep activities varied
Children can have a rather short attention span, meaning you can set them down with an activity and quite quickly they’re bored and calling for your attention. Try and keep activities varied- and don’t make them last too long. Sitting children down with a book to read all day is not going to work. Audio books can be a great option or practicing their numeracy or literacy skills to keep their brains engaged. Set them up with some colouring or paints, or a meditation app.
– Have open conversations
I know many parents have been hesitant to discuss the situation with their children, fearing that they would become very worried or distressed. However, talking regularly is important. They won’t always want to talk but you can usually tell when they do. It can also be beneficial with older children to limit their access to the internet. Constant news updates on social media can cause even more anxiety and stress. Ask them what they already know and let them know that you appreciate and understand their concerns. Encourage them to continue discussing their feelings throughout these times and remember to practise active listening skills when you do this.
– Prioritise yourself
Throughout lockdown, it is vital to set aside some time to spend alone. This could even be scheduled into the timetable and could take the form of reading, exercise or even a hot, relaxing bath. Right now, your mental health and wellbeing really needs to be acknowledged and attended to. Remember to continue engaging with others outside of your household through Whatsapp, Facebook or other social media accounts which can help to combat feelings of loneliness and stress.
– Seek help when you need it
Whether you have a partner at home or an older child who can help out, now is the time to ask for help. People often feel a sense of shame or guilt asking, however we do not know how long this will last. You will only run yourself into the ground if you continue doing everything by yourself. Make the most of having others at home who can take over certain tasks to allow you to get on with some work or maybe go for a walk alone.
– Create a positive environment
It is important to keep spirits high for you and your family. It can be great to start the date with motivational quotes or goal-setting to enthuse your children. Use affirmations and mantras that you can say out loud together, giving you a sense of unity and strength. Focus on all the good things in your lives right now and take away the positives over the negatives. The likelihood is that when we find ourselves out of this situation, many of us will look back and regret not making the most of the time we had at home to spend together.
These tips will allow you to not only keep to a working schedule, but will also organise your children’s time and energy. If you yourself are feeling lonely, worried or stressed, I am still offering my online counselling service which might be of great use. Often talking things through with someone removed from your situation can offer a different perspective and a sense of enlightenment.
Remember that these are unprecedented and uncertain times. Do what you can and appreciate yourself and others for what they are doing.