As the title suggests, this post speaks to parents managing the work from home situation with one or more children around. It’s difficult for people to juggle multiple roles while keeping the vibe of the household positive. So, how do parents and their children do this dance right? What is the best way to remain connected to children while managing work?
Ask how the situation is working for them. Children have their own experience of a lockdown. A lot of it might be centered around what is happening with their parents. Asking them about their views would be a great starting point to clarify our assumptions. Author and coach Scott Edinger recommends asking these three questions:
- What do I do that you like or that you’d like to see more of?
- What do I do that you don’t like?
- What would make me a better parent?
The nature of these questions demands that the conversation be light and positive. Even playful, so your kids don’t feel like they are being interrogated! Listen when they speak. There might be information you do not like, but one of the reasons for having this conversation is to elicit such points. Wherever possible, clarify, and thank them!
Be clear about shared responsibilities. Things don’t flow that easily when everyone’s digital sessions, work hours, household chores, and downtime are crammed into the same space. How do we make sure there is a system to get things done, without upsetting everyone? Have a board where everyone can see their tasks: to do, doing, done. Sure, planning and coordination will need effort, but having a process offers unparalleled clarity and peace.
Create rituals that allow for space as well as togetherness. When in a lockdown, balancing aspects of personal space and togetherness are critical. How is the family spending time together? Create a fun ritual around that so people look forward to it – eating dinner together, cooking a special meal on weekends, movie time on Friday, etc. And when it comes to space, respect each other’s needs. How? Knock the door before entering rooms. If someone is taking a break, let them be.
Know your schedule and communicate it. Sometimes, a day has back to back meetings for 9 hours, or work peaks when there is an upcoming deadline – let your family know that you maybe be unavailable or might even be irritable! It helps. Other times, if your day is light, lend an extra helping hand in the chores or let your kids know they can approach you whenever they want.
These practices might seem awkward at first because we may not be used to them. But they go a long way in creating a healthy home environment, given the situation we are in.