The struggle is real. Working from home with my partner, two children, dog and cat all under one roof is not easy. What keeps my anxiety at bay is knowing we are all in this together. My company is extremely supportive and so is my community. We support one another.
Additionally, I’ve joined several public slack channels, and it has been comforting to receive support from others going through the same challenges during these uncertain times.
My husband and I did it all wrong the first couple days. We weren’t clear on how to prioritize the day. I didn’t know what virtual work meetings he had and he didn’t know when I had mine. We found the children would either have double care or none at all. Luckily, I knew a good resource.
David is the SVP, Human Resources at Delos. Delos is committed to enhancing health and well-being in the spaces where we live, work, sleep and play through standards, programs and solutions designed to promote wellness, stress resilience, performance, restfulness and joy.
When I shared my challenges about working from home with everyone else home as well, here is what he had to say. “There's no magic bullet for this one. I've found so far that the best strategy is structure. Block out all of your days so everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing at any given time. Work, school, walk the dog, exercise, reading, etc.” He suggested my husband and I need to schedule our days using a joint Google calendar, so we can have a visual on who is available to be parenting while the other person is working.
When it is one person's turn to work, it needs to be like the other doesn’t exist. It’s important that the person designated to focus on work retreats to their quiet home office space. David added, “I have found myself in the garage or in the car taking calls. Still, it's a struggle to maintain some sense of normalcy. We all have to band together and provide whatever kind of support we can right now.”
Right before my kids’ elementary school closed, our school director said she was starting to hear students talking about COVID-19 with statements like "there's a germ going around the world that kills people.” While children don't necessarily feel alarmed the way adults do about world news, it's best practice to shield young minds from select information.
The school director suggested adults keep the news off when children are around and avoid talking about coronavirus with other adults until children have gone to bed. She recommended responding to questions with, "Yep, there are always germs around which do make people sick, so that's why people wash hands carefully and slowly. Let's go wash our hands together." Adults have to find the balance between keeping children informed and not terrifying them.
Children need social and intellectual interaction just like adults. In lieu of in-person playdates, schedule virtual playdates. Google Hangouts is free if you have a gmail email address.
Once your workday is over and you are able to step away from your computer, put kids on a virtual meeting with their friends. Nothing is cuter than watching my two year old make silly faces at his schoolmate. The added bonus: he is thoroughly occupied for the next 30 minutes while I can make dinner.
When guiding our children through this uncertain time, it is the parent and/or caretaker’s duty to address the questions they may have, keep them active and entertained, and show you are there to support them. Jill Koziol, the founding CEO of Motherly, is providing daily-updated, expert-driven content to help us support our little ones.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, pets can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness and isolation. During times of social distancing we should all turn to our fur babies for good vibes.
On the other hand, working from home comes with a handful of obstacles, and your pets can sometimes be one of them. My dog and cat sense something is different; they’re used to an empty house 10 hours a day. I’m certain my dog is enjoying the constant human interaction, but it’s apparent my cat is thoroughly annoyed.
One canine challenge: my dog seems to pace around me every time I am on a conference call. I have learned that just as I need to keep a routine with my children, I need to keep a routine with my animals. Feeding, restroom breaks and play time all on a set schedule has been working well for us. My dog’s pacing reminded me that it was part of my going-to-the-office morning routine to feed the dog as I was running out the door!
Don’t be like me— feed your pet breakfast during their normal time-frame. Once you have taken the time to give your pet healthy attention in the morning, set up your home office in an animal free zone, if possible. If your pet starts whining or batting at the door when you have told them to stay out, do not cave and let them in. This will only tell your pet that they are in charge.
It’s important to set routines with your pets, so you minimize getting frustrated with them. Your furry loved one can sense the negative energy. During stressful times, we need their love the most.
Now that I have an established work from home plan with my partner, children and pets, I can’t forget to focus on myself. Maintaining a healthy diet has been my personal saving grace. The first few days of working remotely, I found myself drifting into the kitchen pretty often and snacking throughout the day. The next morning I’d feel groggy and fatigued.
Once I connected it to my diet, I kicked that bad habit and made a point to fix a healthy breakfast before getting my work day started. It’s pretty easy to transition from waking up with a cup of coffee to sitting in my home office. Forcing myself to dedicate a few minutes to making a filling breakfast pays off with the increased productivity and focus until lunch time.
I met Sydney in a HR Slack Community recently. Sydney works as the People Operations Generalist at Dosh, and she offered a few work from home tips.
1. Stay Hydrated. Keeping a water bottle or glass by your home station is essential.
2. Let your teammates know when you are stepping away from your desk for lunch or to check the mail. It keeps everyone in the loop.
3. Schedule breaks. When you are in the office, usually others ask you “Hey, are you grabbing lunch?” At home, there are no social cues, so adding a time slot to your calendar will reminder yourself to step away and take a break.
At the end of the day, I am getting more quality time with my family. Between jumping through the work life balance hoops, we are sharing laughs, making memories and cherishing the moments we have.