Covid-19 has been an introduction to working from home as a new mother!
As a first-time mother, I recently embarked down the often, rocky road of returning to work after maternity leave.
Just when I thought I had begun to learn (but certainly not yet master) the art of balancing career and motherhood, along came the COVID19 pandemic. Like hundreds of thousands of other parents, I now find myself navigating yet another unchartered territory – working and parenting from home.
For many, this is not a novel idea, but as a Solicitor practising in the area of family law, I work in an industry that has not yet fully embraced the concept of remote working, and as such, I am a novice once more.
The following are a few tips and hints I have found helpful over the past couple of weeks:
Communicate with your employer:
Effective communication with your employer is critical during this time. Let them know that your children are at home with you and that children being children, there will be times that you cannot guarantee you will be able to take a call or attend a virtual meeting without the risk of some interruption or chitter-chatter in the background.
Try to create a routine for your day and share with your employer, so they are aware of the times you will be available for calls and when you will be catching up with emails. Work closely with your employer to schedule important calls and meetings at quieter times, such as nap time or when your partner can assist.
It is essential to manage expectations, so you are not disappointing your employer or yourself. As working from home the new norm for many across the country, most parenting employers will be understanding and will appreciate your honesty.
Communicate with your Partner and Family:
The house is full of your family, all with different needs so Creating a schedule, if only loosely followed, will be vital during this time. Kids thrive on structure, and parents will fight less if they know what to expect of each other.
If your children are old enough, you and your partner can talk to them and possibly write out the schedule, so they understand when you’re working and when you will be giving them the attention they love. My young one is obviously not at this point yet!
If you have a partner at home with you, and if your work schedule allows, work out a plan to care for the children in shifts. Working from home schedule gives both of you set blocks of time to focus solely on work and hence be more productive during this time. It will also help prevent resentment from building up if you feel like you are the parent attending to your children’s needs the majority of the time. Silently fuming as you sit in front of your laptop won’t do your work or your relationship any favours.
Utilise nap times and bedtimes as best you can and educational technology tools for older children. Many experts are canvassing for less stress, less guilt. There are lots of amazing educational tools and videos out there, like SchoolHub, virtual tours of cultural attractions, math and reading games and much more. Don’t stress if screen time is on the rise during this time; we are all doing what we can to get through this.
Get in the Mindset:
Your mind must be focused and in work mode when you switch on your computer for the day.
Separation of work and parenting roles will allow you to concentrate on your work during your ‘office hours’ and enjoy the time with your children when it’s your turn to care for them. If you don’t separate the time, you will always feel like you’re not doing either very well.
Creating a work from home space helps both you and your family to recognise the role change, and this is now the time you are working!
Try and ensure that your workspace is clutter-free. It will be hard to concentrate if your eye keeps catching the pile of laundry in the corner or stack of dishes on the draining board.
Also, get dressed for the occasion. Lounging in your pyjamas will not help you get into the right headspace for the task at hand, and you’ll be ready for a last-minute video call request!
Take Some Breaks:
When working from home, there is a tendency to plough through as much work as possible without taking a break. If you were in the workplace, you would insist on making the time for lunch or a coffee break.
Taking breaks refreshes the mind, restores reasoning ability and renews our motivation. There is evidence that suggests that regular breaks increase productivity.
If you are having a bad day and your brain is not firing from all cylinders, taking a ten-minute breather to have a coffee or get a breath of fresh air can be hugely beneficial.
In the end, we are all just doing our best in this difficult time and learning as we go!
If you are experiencing a relationship breakdown, access issues or any other Family Law situation, contact me at Cahir & Co Solicitors. It is vital to get expert advice that is current in these uncertain times.
I can be contacted at aislingcarr@cahirsolicitors.