Creative Parenting: How I Survive Working From Home With My Child
There is no common mantra or a magic spell that works for everyone.
It has never been more necessary to be clear about the different roles we play, during this time when we are working from home, surrounded by our families.
Am I a partner, a parent, the boss, an employee or a teammate? How do I change between roles when the needs demand it?
The challenge is in juggling all of these, all while prioritising our tasks. You must appreciate that there will be clashes at times when you might need to focus on being a boss or team member over being a parent. The trick is in navigating and working towards achieving balance, ensuring that none of your responsibilities suffers.
It would be utterly unrealistic to say that you can ace it all. None of us can. We all need to compromise so we can achieve what we need to. We just have to be easy on ourselves and take credit for all anything we manage to pull off.
There is no common mantra or a magic spell that works for everyone. We all have different living arrangements and our kids belong to different age groups. But while our situations are different, there are still some things we can do to help yourself and those around us.
It took me almost six weeks of lockdown to get there, but I can definitely say I am in a better place now. It may seem like an uphill task, but it’s not impossible. Here are some of the things I have learned.
The first thing to do is prioritise. You cannot be everything at once, and your role will change throughout the working day.
You will not be judged by your colleagues for running a weekly video team meeting while your kids mess about over their breakfast. You will never be scorned for being a meticulous mother, helping your kids to follow their teacher online while you should be number-crunching or building the next pitch deck.
It is okay to shut your laptop to attend to a tantrum-throwing toddler. Just get back to work once they have settled. That way, you have peace of mind—and peace and quiet—to help you be more productive.
Next, keep everyone Involved and learn to lean on your wolf pack. You, your partner and your kids are in this together, and it is a great time to teach kids teamwork and how to be a team player. Show them how you can succeed together by sharing tasks and responsibilities, all while helping each other out. This is also a great way to keep them involved and occupied. Depending on the age of your kids, you can include them in different tasks. Be creative and have fun!
You should also build a schedule and stick to it. While we are in lockdown, plan all your meals beforehand so you can organise the week ahead. That way, you have more time to focus on other things. Using the weekends to prepare the meals can save you time over the coming days. You can discuss your weekly work schedule with your partner in advance, so you can plan who is on baby duty or childcare fatigues at any given time.
And don’t miss out on making time for some self-love. The way I see it, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Make sure you are looked after and choose your battles. Only when you are content can you bring harmony around you.
Do so by taking time off to gather yourself: cry, shout, vent, rant, journal, meditate, pray, dance, sing, or put your headphones on and shut out the world. Eat that pint of ice cream! Let it all out of your system.
Asking for a time-out does not make you a bad parent. Just do what you need to and forget what you have to do for just a few minutes each day. Once you have recharged, you can take on the world, one moment at a time.
This all adds up to knowing what you can and cannot control. Identify your own needs and the needs of those around you and feed those emotions. Practice patience, mindfulness and optimism. Take one thing at a time and you will come out of lockdown stronger.
Creative Parenting: How I Survive Working From Home
- Use the balcony or open your windows to play. Get some fresh air, blow bubbles or imagine shapes in the clouds. Have a balcony picnic and count the birds or stars. We make it a point to spend all our evenings out on the balcony.
- Let’s get cooking! Involve and encourage the kids to help you in the kitchen by giving them safe chores to do. Let them explore, have fun and learn at the same time.
- Enact your favourite cartoon characters—we play Marsha and the Bear.
- Let your kids lead and play along. You will be amazed at how creative they can be.
Written by Deepti Pathak, a single mom of a two-year-old boy. She is based in Singapore and works as an Affiliate Search and Strategic Partnerships Lead at Verizon Media.