25 Mar 2020
Learning to work from home with the family
Many parents across WA have found themselves working from home with little time to prepare for it. For some, this is the first time they have ever had to manage their day to day duties alongside caring responsibilities, rather than switching roles at the school or daycare gates. Here are some hints and tips from parents who have done this before, which will ensure the mental wellbeing of yourself and the whole family:
When you write your to do list each morning, it can feel like every task is essential and urgent, which alongside parental duties can feel impossible and overwhelming. The reality is that you’re not as likely to get as much done at home with children as you are in the office, particularly at first when your presence is a novelty and you haven’t found the right routine that works for you all. So look at each day and prioritise your tasks. The “Eisenhower Urgent/Important Principle” is a useful tool to help you determine which of your activities are important and which are, essentially, distractions. Please see https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/ for further details.
Set a schedule – but be flexible
To stay in a routine is essential for all of your family’s wellbeing. Start the day as you normally would, get-up, get showered, get dressed and have breakfast together. If you are aware of it and it is possible, try to follow the school-day schedule so there is a sense of familiarity. You know how long your child can concentrate, so set tasks accordingly rather than trying to follow what other parents are doing. If you have to alter your schedule, don’t just give up on it, it will give a framework for future days. Don’t be afraid to change your routine if it isn’t working but remember it can take up to two weeks to establish a new behaviour, so give it a little time and be clear with your family about what you want them to do.
Try to have some “you time”
This might mean that you have to get up 30 minutes earlier than you usually would or if you have a partner or older kids who can look after the little ones, do something that you enjoy doing. Read a book, go for a run and just enjoy a distraction-free coffee.
If you can, share the load
If you and your partner are both working from home at the moment, take childcare duties in shifts. You could either do it an hour or two at a time, or split the day into halves. If you do not have this option, see if a family member or friend can Skype with the children and do an activity with them.
If your little one won’t leave your side during non-business hours, they may find it difficult to adapt to the novelty of having you at home. Whilst all the advice above may help to get you all used to your new situation, there are many aspects of this that will need time to settle in and become established.
Whilst you are all adapting to changes and spending more time together in close quarters, you may find yourself reacting to things differently e.g. you may become frustrated if you are interrupted during an important video call or a reporting deadline. Remember to take time to enjoy being close to your family and laugh with them too. This situation may be difficult for the whole family and we should stop and take time to remind ourselves of what is important.
If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, please remember that there is always someone to listen. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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