The post pandemic era and the work-from-home culture has created a work-life imbalance for most. With travel time waived off, you are working more hours than before while managing responsibilities at home. Much like you, your spouse and kids too are home, and inevitably, this means that your patience is being put to test.
Let’s face it, not all of our homes could give us a productive environment like the office. Just as the office is not designed to make you feel “at home.” Today’s work-from-home culture is a byproduct of the pandemic and as much as we’d like working in our pajamas, there’s no denying that work-life balance has gone for a toss. Even though you and the family share the same home 24×7, how much time do you really spend together?
The work-from-home culture has brought the focus back on spending qualitative time with family. With a little bit of organisation and lots of planning, parents can bring that much-needed balance to their professional and personal lives.
Here are five ways parents can balance work-from-home and family in the post pandemic era.
Plan, plan, plan
We can’t stress this enough but planning will take you a long way in riding through the work-from-home days. Even if you are a “seize the day as it comes” kind of a person, a little planning is the way to go right now. This is all the more relevant since work-from-home has created a pattern and while it may be mundane, it does help you execute your tasks and achieve your work and family commitments.
As a thumb rule, play up scenarios of all possible outcomes when planning your week, then accordingly schedule time for different tasks through the day. The point is you need to be present both mentally and physically for your work and your child. And you need to pre-schedule duties through the day in a way that neither overlap with the other.
Have an important video call? Try to schedule it with your child’s online classes (in another room) so you don’t disturb each other.
At the same time, if you are interrupted by your little one during a work call, stay calm and handle it with ease. Your toddler will not know the importance of your meeting, but you need to understand that your attention is important to them. At most times, your colleagues or partner will understand the two-minute break you need.
Speak to your child beforehand about not interrupting you during work hours. Children will listen if you reason with them and you can then find time to complete your tasks within the “office” hours.
Work as a team
Work from home is as much about your work family as it is about the family at home. To make sure all your tasks are executed successfully, you need cooperation from both sides. And this requires you to stay communicative with your colleagues and the boss as well.
You will need to set boundaries when it comes to work hours. Go the extra mile to coordinate with your colleagues when you need to run personal errands and need to be covered at the workspace. You also need to remember to be considerate and extend the same cooperation when your colleague needs it.
Remember, they are in the same boat as you and probably have the same level of commitments and tasks to complete through the day. A helping hand can go a long way in ensuring work-life balance.
Always remember to notify your boss and colleagues of the tasks that need to be completed and work on a timeline that suits your needs without compromising on deadlines. However, do not overpromise.
Define your home-office space
Offices are designed to make you productive and efficient, which isn’t the case with homes. You tend to laze around and procrastinate work that will eat into your personal hours. That’s why it’s important that you set-up a workstation that meets your needs.
It will help if you set it up in the same way as your office space was. You can always improvise and add things that you now require more regularly. The home-office space helps you create a mental demarcation between home duties and work. It also helps you think, make decisions and complete tasks without being distracted time and again.
Coming to a familiar workspace helps create a routine. It’s a place for you to go within the confines of your home to work and disconnect from the familial concerns through the day. For your little one too, it’s a visual reminder that you should not be interrupted when at the workstation.
Set play dates
With public spaces being restrictive due to the post-pandemic era, your child has little to no social interaction with others beyond the immediate family. For your toddler, these are crucial years of development and he/she requires interaction with kids of their own age.
With all the precautions in place, you can speak to other parents and organise online play dates for your children from time to time. Not only is this particularly important for your child’s holistic development, but also to get some time for yourself.
You can organise the play dates to coincide with an important task at home or simply to find some personal time for yourself. With the family and work all at home, your personal space has gone out of the window. You will have to steal some moments for your own mental sanity.
If nothing else, catch up on some sleep, watch a movie, binge that show you’ve been wanting to watch, spend time with your spouse, or just indulge in a snack that is otherwise prohibited with the toddler in the house (sugar treats and fizzy drinks, we are looking at you!).
Communication is key
Work from home isn’t going to be easy and there will be days when you will have to put in the extra hours. On other days, your personal chores will just be overwhelming. To add to this, you’ve not left home in days and the unpredictability of the pandemic is straining you at a subconscious level.
It’s important then that you take the time out and communicate with your partner, colleagues or even your boss about your situation. Communication is key to any relationship.
Speak to your partner about dividing responsibilities. If your spouse is also a working professional, then you need to respect each other’s roles in the office and at home. And that means incorporating your partner’s schedule when making yours. Don’t hesitate to ask even some of the most basic questions. Do not assume about who will be executing household chores or taking care of the little one. Outside of work commitments too, discuss with your partner about their needs, wants and expectations as frequently as you can.
The balancing act is never easy but it takes a lot of perseverance and practice to make things work – both at home and the office.
Visit Singapore Parenting Festival for more information to help parents find answers to their parenting and pregnancy concerns.
Watch recordings of SPF webinars here.