Full-time worker, Full-time parent : How to maintain balance in the Coronavirus crisis?

The juggle between balancing a career and motherhood had always been a struggle, BUT never before has it been so intensely magnified since the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic that swept across the world within a matter of months, and ‘lock down’ was issued on 23rd March 2020. Bars and restaurants are closed, non-essential shops are closed, schools closed except for those of key workers, international travel banned. Our connections with others outside of out household is now only to be exchanged virtually.

We are suddenly propelled into a new unfound world where we are instructed to ‘Stay home, Save lives’. Being in lock down is unnatural for us as human beings, we are born to explore, be inquisitive and learn and grow from our experiences. Now, all of a sudden our work space and our home space merged within one environment.

But how is it possible as a parent to work from home whilst being a productive, nurturing and calm parent. Here is ‘Once Upon the Mat’s’ handy guide:

1) Children thrive and feel secure with a routine. Our daily lives are structured this way, and if possible, maintain this structure within the home environment. We have found it helpful to set a simple planner for each day a set activities of approximately one hour each. These activities will vary from role play, reading, baking, to play in the garden. Pre- planning these activities the night before helps for smooth running the next day. However, as the weeks have gone by we are also understanding that children some days they will not want to follow the routine scheduled, and its important to recognise their cues and focus on what is best for your children and family.

2) If your child still naps, use this time to your advantage, the same applies to bed time. These hours will create your flexible, friendly, working hours. Employers will be sympathetic to the situation we all find ourselves, and understand that many parents are full time working from home whilst full time parenting. You can’t help noise, or control when tantrums will happen when you have children.  Embrace your children into the working day if necessary, whether it be during  zoom call or if they want to pretend to be working next to you! It’s also important that we factor in some self-care time, if we neglect our own mental health everything else fails. Factor in time for meditation, yoga, reading, a walk or a relaxing bath. Here at Once Upon the Mat we have been practising family yoga together with other families virtually, as we have taken our business online. This has been a wonderful relaxing bonding time and a wonderful social outlet. 

3) Getting dressed for the day ahead as soon as you get up. Taking off your pjs and putting on your clothes for the day can make you physically and mentally prepared for another day, even putting on a little make-up can lift your mood and leave you feeling more refreshed and revitalised.

4) Create an ‘office’ space at home, ideally somewhere you can shut the door on after working hours and somewhere whist one parent is caring for the children, the other can work quiet and productively. This then physically separates work and family time.

5) DO NOT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF! Yes you heard me right?! Make allowances for some of your child’s behaviour, if they are not feeling up to home schooling, don’t worry they’ll catch up when they return to school. This is a very abnormal situation for children to experience, and some will be too young to understand the complexity and seriousness of the current crisis. What is important above all is protecting our children’s mental health and creating a safe, secure, loving home environment. Extra cuddles, snuggles with movies, praise and reward your child for good behaviour and build your child up and shower them with positivity confetti!

6) For parents who are both working full time from home, use technology to your advantage. There are hundreds of educational games, programmes, apps that parents can facilitate when they cannot be a full time play buddy for their children. David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ or Steve Backshall’s live nature classes which children can learn all things wildlife, or Joe Wick’s PE lessons to get the children up and moving, and for older children Khan Academy are providing free web based learning programmes. Structure in independent play time during the day where there is no screen-time, allow children the opportunity to feel what being bored is like, you and they will be surprised. Children given the space, freedom and creativity create their own play and learn a valuable skill of social independence, self-confidence, the ability to use their own imagination and emotional regulation.

Most importantly, follow government guidelines, take the time to be still and reflect,  and create memeories togther as a family!