GUEST BLOG POST – By Ali Bengough With this “new normal” we have with more parents working from home, balancing kids and work in the same space and time can be a challenge, right?
You are in your office working and from the other room you hear, “STOP IT! I’m telling on you!” at a volume only discernible by dogs.
Or you’re focusing on writing a report and in the space of 5 minutes you have 3 different children whinging for your attention.
Do these, or similar, scenarios sound familiar?
Try these tips to support you in lowering the stress and increasing the connection with your kids. In no particular order:
- Recognise and accept your work productivity will automatically be lower when the kids are around. Let’s face facts. Children require attention and connection, and expecting them to let you work uninterrupted is unrealistic and you’re setting yourself up for a whole lot of stress if you expect to put in a full work day as if you were in the office.
- Keep the big picture at the forefront of your mind. What values do you have around this situation? What is important to you? Family, financial stability, connection, self-care, your children’s development? I invite you to make a list of these important things and rank them in order of importance. Then, in the moment, you can make a choice about what you prioritise (e.g., breaking up arguments, playing with your kids or completing that report).
- Carve out some time each day to engage in some kind of self-care. When you take time for yourself, you approach the work/children interaction in a calmer and more connected state, which will benefit everyone.
- Create daily timetables with flexibility built in. Book in the essential work-related meetings and put some things in place for interruptions, but otherwise allow yourself to put it aside and come back to it later if it’s needed. Consider getting up a couple of hours early to work while the kids are still sleeping, for example.
- Make a list of acceptable activities for your children to do independently with some alternative options up your sleeve. Consider getting them involved in making a box (a shoe box is fine), which holds their activities. When they come to you complaining of boredom, invite and encourage them to go to their box. Decorate the box together and give it an appropriate name, such as “Emily’s play box”, or “Sebastian’s Jedi box”.
- Call in the cavalry. You don’t need to do this on your own. So, if you have access to a support network, phone a friend to vent your angst. Ask for a play date, get the grandparents to babysit, do a sleepover with one of their friends. This is especially helpful when you have a work deadline looming.
- Plan your day with children’s play time up first. When you give your kids quality time with you first, they are more likely to then play independently and leave you in peace to work, because their connection bucket has been filled.
- Create a “shit” plan. That is, when everything goes to shit and there’s no saving the day, what will you do? Bring the mattresses into the lounge and set up a movie marathon? Ditch the work and go to the park? Choose something that will help to shake off all the pent-up energy and soothe the soul.
- Spend time outdoors in green space. Regular time outdoors will support you all to shake off the angst, ground and soothe.
- Create some movement time every day. Go for a family bike ride. Jump on the trampoline. Go to the park and run around. Play a game of footy. Build in that time for exercise and consider doing it a few times a day. Exercise will help everyone use up all the built-up energy and create room for quiet and rest. It’s a useful tool to use when things are becoming a bit volatile.
- Be kind to yourselves. As someone who understands what it’s like doing this juggling act, cut yourself some slack and allow some grace. You don’t have to be perfect at it, especially if working from home is new for you.
- Remember, a difficult day does not mean you’ve ruined your opportunity to work or to create/maintain a great relationship with your kids. Tomorrow is a new day. Go back to the big picture vision and your values, take a breath (or 100), and start again.
Trained in Education and Psychology, Ali Bengough has more than 15 years’ experience working holistically with families. With immense amounts of compassion and heart, her specialty is to emotionally support family members who are caring for loved ones with a disability. Ali is highly intuitive and brings unique insight and expertise in supporting sensitive souls to navigate difficult life situations and experiences.
Ali can be contacted via her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/alijaynecoach/