I typically split my week when it comes to working from home, 50% in the office and 50% at home. Although, like many of us, today’s unusual circumstances have meant working from home fulltime is the norm. As well as this change, I also have a one year old at home with me fulltime – working alongside my little one is a new experience for me, and to be quite frank a struggle, as time has gone on I have found some things that have helped me navigate through the days, hopefully they will help you too.
In office talk this means popping to the kitchen to make a coffee and having a quick 5-minute natter with a colleague, some frown upon this, but much needed in my opinion! In recent times, taking breaks means switching off for 5 minutes and playing with my 1 year old when he gets bored of the 5000 toys we own. It might mean that I have to log on at 7pm to send that email I just haven’t got round to doing all day, but needs must when you have a baby hanging off your leg wanting attention!
Fresh air for children is like hitting the refresh button. Whether it be a lunchtime wander or an after work 10k walk to destress, taking a child out for a change of scenery and fresh air tends to do the world of good! I also find that talking to them round the walk stimulates their mind and also helps you zone out of work mode for a little bit (Can’t say I get much back with Mama, Dada and doggie being his vocabulary limitation at the moment)
Here is when you expect me to say stick to a routine, as hard as it is. Nope, the opposite, forget the routine and work it around the situation we are in at the moment, if they usually nap at 10:00 but are deciding against that now, don’t fight it, it will only cause you stress and unnecessary tension that you will have to deal with on top of everything else! You might naturally find a new routine in this weird situation, or not, either is just fine.
Accept the situation we are put in
Conference calls turning into a juggling of hiding the background noise, paying attention, and managing a baby who is obsessed with attempting to eat the coals in the fireplace? (a personal experience of mine!). Just accept it, hey, even laugh about it! Everyone is in this situation, there are quite literally millions of people who can relate to juggling everything. There will be background noise in calls, and a slight level of distraction as you are trying to be two places at once but again, its normality at the moment.
Nap time – the euphoric 2 hours of the day (who am I kidding? More like 40 minutes, but we can dream) when you ‘power work’, as I like to call it. Some might say schedule calls in this time as it is nice and quiet. I personally take a different approach – ‘power working’ is doing all my tasks which are most practical to do child free, for some that might be calls, but for me it’s things like content writing and planning, activities which are better with my full concentration and focus. Top tip: I usually set my Teams to do not disturb in this period so I can be my most productive.
Lean on your team
Being able to lean on people to laugh, destress, vent and more is important to getting through this. This might be your team or your close peers at work, but whoever they are, make sure you have regular connections with these people. In my experience, especially now, these are the people that can hear the noisy toys, baby crying, loud nursery rhymes in the background and not bat an eye! Make sure you lean on these people when you need them!
It goes without saying that absolutely all the above is easier said than done, and there are days I feel my most productive, and days when I feel I have achieved very little. I am lucky to work for a very understanding and empathetic organisation, one of our Director’s made the comment when reacting to the change ‘If our customers can’t handle noisy children in the background of calls at a time like this, then maybe we should think twice about working with them’ which sums up the organisation and how much they care about their employees. All in all, it’s important to keep in mind that we are all in this together, everyone is in the same boat and trying to figure this out this day by day, don’t be hard on yourself!