FORCED into home lockdown amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, many parents with young children will be left to care for them 24/7, even while they have to work from home. For many it has been an eye-opening experience, as they see first-hand the torture daycare and kindergarten workers face on a daily basis.
What do you do when your toddler is going stir-crazy inside the house, the TV won't appease them, it's too hot outside to play, and your boss is calling you every hour on the hour? You improvise, shared a couple moms who have been working from home for years, and who have these tips to share with the newbies.
“In order not to go crazy, wake up in the morning and make your peace with God,” Michelle Butler, freelancer and mother of a three-year-old shared.
She said that it is in finding peace with herself first, that she is able to juggle work and her toddler and keep from “going crazy”.
“She usually goes to daycare for half the day while I work, but since last Friday school has been out so it has been an interesting experience, to say the least. But I find that once I do my morning meditation, the spills and mishaps don't bother me as much, and I'm a much calmer and more understanding parent.”
2. Don't hide the fact that you're a mom
“Some mothers would want to hide the extent of their responsibilities so they don't seem like a liability to their companies,” said Asha Reid, mother of a four-year-old. “But the first thing I learned was that it's better to be upfront from the get-go, and that way the boss will allow some leeway.
Reid has been working from home full-time since last Thursday, as her company enacted early COVID-19 measures. She also had the opportunity before the restrictions to work from home several days per week, so she was more prepared than most.
“My company knows how many of us are parents and they understand that sometimes they will call and hear Peppa Pig in the background, and sometimes they will hear screaming and yelling, and they know that sometimes it takes a little while for things to settle down, and so patience is important,” Reid said.
3. Don't sweat the small stuff
“So you've had the baby spill juice over your brand-new laptop, or had them eat your mouse, or had them press a button and end the call while you're video-conferencing — don't get angry,” Sasha Peynado said. “Once you start yelling or getting all hot and bothered you'll make things difficult for everyone. Just clean up as best as you can, and start over.”
Peynado, the mother of twin two-year-olds, advised parents to just clean up the spills immediately without getting angry at the children who don't know what they're doing wrong.
4. Share the responsibility
“Don't do everything by yourself,” Butler said. “If you have to make sacrifices during this time, so should your partner. So if he has to work outside the home, encourage him to get home as early as possible so you can get a break.”
5. Put the children first
“Do their baths, breakfast and playtime first before you start to tackle work,” Peynado said. “And try to keep their schedule as similar to the school's as possible. So, for example, my toddlers would have Circle Time at 10:00 am at the nursery so it's something I continue to do every morning.”
She added: “Also, make sure they have all the meals, snacks and diaper changes they need throughout the day, and don't neglect these because of work.”
6. Use sleep time wisely
The moms all pointed out that parents will get the most work done when it's nap time. So work while the kids sleep — and before they get up in the mornings and after they go to bed at night.
7. Assign buddies
If you have older children, assign them as buddies to the younger ones, but with age-specific roles. You're not making them parent while you work, but the older buddies can handle simple tasks like keeping the babies entertained, fetching bottles and feeding them snacks.
8. Make your home conducive to play
Your child won't be encouraged to leave you alone and go play if they don't have a space to do so. No matter how small your home is, there should be a space where it's OK for the kids to get messy and dirty without you yelling at them. This can be as simple as a blanket in a corner with a plastic covering and sheets of paper so they can finger paint in peace.