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Navigating Working from Home as a Parent

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Juggling being a mum and working certainly had its challenges even before COVID-19, but in recent weeks we have found ourselves isolated within four walls, having to work, parent AND be a teacher all at once!

Having the internet at times like these is fantastic – the amount of activity ideas circulating from mums and dads in the same boat is so great. Plus, the tamariki have full access to great educational resources covering all subjects, including maths, reading, science and creative, and the school has been great with their support of these tools.

Although these resources have helped, the past few weeks in isolation have been a learning experience for my whànau (as I’m sure is the case for many others) as we figured out how to navigate our “new normal”. Some of the biggest lessons I have learned include:

  • Developing a good structure and routine throughout the week is important. We did this right from the start and had a family meeting around expectations and respect for each other’s time and space.
  • Having more but shorter breaks during the day provide a chance to connect with the kids and find out what they have been up to.
  • You never need to apologise for having the kids in the background of a work call or video conference – everyone is in the same boat and will understand.
  • Learning how to mute and unmute your microphone quickly will save you a lot of headaches.
  • Friend time is essential – both of my kids have been linking in with their friends on a daily basis, and this has helped them to still feel connected despite not being able to see each other in person.
  • Exercise is also super important – whether it’s a walk, doing the Les Mills gym workout on TV 1, playing tag in the house or dancing, giving the kids a chance to burn off some energy is a big help.

Structuring the Day

From the beginning, it was clear that having a routine was essential for creating a sense of normalcy. In my house, we have a schedule for the kids that we try to stick too – but it’s flexible, up for discussion and can get moved around. Patience and compromise have definitely made this process a lot less stressful!

Our day is broken up into small blocks of time and it typically looks something like this:

9:00 am: The day starts (I like to find a school bell sound on YouTube to ring out for a bit of fun, much to my children’s chagrin)

9:00 am – 10:00 am: School work

10:00 am: We have a family dance-off, which we are all getting better at each day. We also do a fruit break

10:10 am – 11:00 am: School work

11:00 am – 11:20 am: Morning tea, run around, get some air

11:20 am – 12:50 pm: School work

12:50 pm – 1:50 pm: Lunchtime

1:50 pm – 3:00 pm: School work

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Do some jobs around the house and free time

5:00 pm: Movie time!

There are many ways my kids have filled their time, from playing basketball, Wasgij puzzles, schoolwork and building forts, to ringing friends, baking, painting, art, going for walks, playing with their toys (Lego mainly) and dancing. Incorporating a wide range of activities in manageable slots has kept them engaged throughout the day, provided opportunities for us to connect as a family and, of course, has allowed me to get my own work done as well.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, I have found that with a bit of creativity, good communication and a willingness to be flexible, juggling two children while working at home is entirely possible, and even fun! Despite the circumstances, this change of pace has taught us all some valuable lessons, many of which we will continue to implement once normality resumes.

Do you have any insights you’d like to share from your own experience, or need support with your next job search? Feel free to reach out to me – I’d love to hear from you and provide any support I can.

Kia kaha!