The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down as millions around the world fell sick, countless jobs were lost and all of us felt trapped in a state of uncertainty. Schools became virtual and those who didn’t lose their jobs suddenly had to work from home - somehow balancing family life, virtual schooling and work. It’s been difficult for everyone, but for mothers especially, how do you balance your family responsibilities while working? We’ve rounded up our nine tips to help make the balance a little easier.
Tip #1: Determine Your Priorities
Make a list of your priorities and stick to them. Determine what tasks need to be accomplished and when. Make note of upcoming meetings or deadlines in a way that can help you keep track of your upcoming responsibilities. If you tend to lose track of time, it could be helpful to set calendar reminders on your phone alerting you to these things.
Tip #2: Optimize Your Workspace
Assuming you’re working remotely, it’s tough to separate your work life and your home life. Creating a dedicated office space can help make this separation clearer while optimizing your productivity during the workweek. Utilizing a room with a door that can close shut during work hours can be useful for letting your family know when you will be on calls or interruptions need to be minimized.
Some ways to optimize your space include:
- Checking that your WiFi connection is strong
- Having a desk with a comfortable chair
- Personalizing it with pictures, a plant, good lighting, etc.
- Ensuring it’s quiet and ideal for virtual meetings or conference calls
Tip #3: Stagger Your Schedules
Staggering your schedules doesn’t leave much room for downtime with your partner, but it could be the short-term solution as you balance working from home and caring for young children (especially if your child is learning from home as well).
If you can, try waking up at different times in the morning to better work around your child’s schedule. Maybe you can wake up early and finish up any to-do items that you have due that day and then your partner can sleep in late. Then, you can go to bed earlier while your partner works later into the night. It is not ideal, but it allows you and your partner to get work finished while also catering to the needs of your children.
Tip #4: Maintain Some Structure
While there are going to be interruptions, try to maintain structure in your daily schedule. When it comes to your family’s schedule, sometimes keeping it simple is best. If you can, try to keep the same routine week-by-week or day-by-day, as this can help you, your partner and your children feel comfortable and organized even when things are uncertain around you.
Remember to stop working once the day is over, as many people have found themselves working overtime since they never really leave the office.
Tip #5: Delegate Where You Can
If you are a team leader or manager, consider whether there might be some things you can take off your plate and delegate to others. While it can be difficult to let things go, doing so is important for the sake of balance. If there are tasks someone else on your team can handle, don’t be afraid to ask for help or assign them out.
Tip #6: Communicate With Your Team
Communication is more important than ever as we work from home. If you are not currently seeing your team in person, check-in more often with one-on-one meetings at least every two weeks. Have a team meeting at least once a week either to start the week or end it, depending on everyone’s schedule. Additionally, you can schedule a team-wide “virtual happy hour” or “virtual team-building” once a month. It’s important to keep morale high and your team motivated during these times.
Tip #7: Learn From Your Mistakes
Your day is rarely going to go as planned, especially when you are juggling family life with a full-time career. If something goes awry, it’s okay to accept your mistakes, move on and figure out what you did wrong so that it does not happen again.
Did your child forget to turn in an assignment? It’s going to happen from time-to-time. Thankfully, most teachers realize the strain that many parents are feeling.
Tip #8: Learn to Say 'No'
You can’t do it all. And while it’s hard for many to say no, there are times when you just have to. This goes hand-in-hand with having the ability to delegate. Rushing to complete an assignment or cutting corners to meet a deadline won’t do anybody any favors.
Also, as much as you would love to attend that play date with another mom but it’s adding more stress than it is worth, it’s okay to say no sometimes or reschedule. There is a fine line to balance when it comes to managing your daily household routine, your children's schedule and work life.
Tip #9: Say Goodbye to Perfection (Where You Can)
If you are spending a lot of time working, you may feel as though you are not giving enough to your family. If your children need extra attention, then you may feel that your job is starting to suffer. Understand that now is not the time to be perfect, and it’s okay to cut yourself some slack. If you burn both ends for too long, the long-term damage could be even greater.
We know it’s a balancing act and some days you are going to feel as though you can’t get your head above water, while other days you feel as though you have it all together. These tips should help as we continue to navigate this new normal.
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