Remote work certainly has its perks, but for many of us it also has its challenges. In this blog series, we’ll focus on the home office, discussing ways to adapt, and conquer—both as an employer and an employee. This is post 10 of the series. You can follow the rest of the series and read our past posts here.
Being a working parent, no matter the age of your child or children, is no small feat. As of about a month ago—as if it was even possible—the role became more challenging. “Shelter-in-place” and “pause” orders have transformed homes into schools, offices, and more—as people are urged to stay inside to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, working parents are now wearing even more hats—simultaneously taking on the roles of parent, educator, and businessman or woman—all from the “comfort” of their own homes. Despite the unexpected pivot into this routine, many parents are fighting the insanity and making it work—after all, it’s sink or swim. However, it doesn’t go unrecognized that these are tough times.
If you’re currently a parent who’s forced to “swim,” it may feel like you are doing so with a heavy weight strapped to your body. While we can’t say for sure when things will get easier, we do have some advice on how to adapt to this new “normal.” We heard from our very own Execu|Search Moms and Dads about how they’re keeping their cool, staying focused, being productive, and decompressing after a long, stressful day. Here is what they had to say:
“A dedicated workspace really helps. I stay away from the kitchen, couch, and our other ‘family areas.’ This helps keep family/parenting space separate from ‘work’ space.” – Jesse Siegal, SVP, Temporary Division
Depending on your living situation, a home office—while ideal—may not be feasible. For this reason, many parents who are now home with their kids, are struggling to toggle between “parent mode,” and “work mode.” This can create a lack of productivity and make a stressful situation, even more stressful. The key to finding separation between the two roles is to establish boundaries.
Set up a space within your home that you will only go to when you are working. It doesn’t have to be an official room with a door, but try to avoid working from places that are usually dedicated to family time. This will not only help you mentally distinguish which role you’re taking on, but it will help your kids (if they’re old enough) understand when you can’t be as present as you’d like for them. Jesse says, “My kids remind me when I’m on the phone but not in my dedicated workspace, that I need to go back downstairs.” Read Also: New To Working Remotely? 10 Things You Need To Know
“It’s all about establishing structure, both for the children and the working parent. Otherwise, work blends into home; home blends into work.” – Mike Ruben, Managing Director, Accounting/Finance
This may require some planning, but create a schedule and stick to it. This will instill a sense of normalcy for both you and your kids. If every day is different, expectations from your kids will be as well—and staying focused won’t be easy. Mike mentions, “I try to mirror the typical workday as much as possible, so things don’t skip a beat.”
Some Execu|Search parents are doing things like starting the day before their children wake up, finding time to make calls between nap schedules and saving more administrative tasks for the end of the workday when they can wind down a bit. Others are finding time to work by keeping their kids busy with activities, and blocking out small increments throughout the day to talk about them together, and instill those teaching moments. While every situation is different, it’s all about structure. Find one that works for you and your kids.
“I start my days with a run which gives me the mental motivation that I need to work throughout the day.” – Amanda Cruse, Senior Managing Director, Healthcare
Working out pumps up endorphins and can help improve your mood—something everyone might need right about now. While gyms are currently out of commission, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your old routine or you can’t start a new one. A lot of our working parents are doing things like waking up early for an at-home gym session, starting or ending their day with a run outdoors, and/or hopping on their Peloton bike to close out the night. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference. If you’re looking for a quick workout, try tuning in to @stacygnyc for her 20 minute workouts on Instagram Live.
“I’ve found that taking small increments of time throughout the day to tackle dishes and tidy up after a very busy toddler, make it so that everything doesn’t pile up—which can make you feel even more overwhelmed.” – Hannah DeGiovanni, VP, Chief Marketing Officer
Working from home was once a benefit that many of us enjoyed. It allowed us to get certain things done throughout the day that we normally wouldn’t be able to do while in the office. While it still has many benefits, working from home might feel a little different now that your kids are home with you. With that said, it’s important to remember to take small breaks for yourself.
This can include doing things like tidying up, cleaning dishes, or even folding laundry so that when nighttime roles around, you can find time to truly unwind. These small breaks will also keep you moving throughout the day, when sometimes it’s easy to remain stagnant while staring at a computer screen.
Another helpful tip is to give your eyes a break too—look into investing in blue light glasses—which can be found on Amazon. Wearing them helps filter harmful light from digital screens, which can leave your eyes feeling strained and tired after a long day. It is also speculated that blocking blue light can help improve sleep—and what parent doesn’t want that?
“Meals with the kids, with no technology allowed at the table, gives us an opportunity to just talk, unwind, laugh and take a break from the stress of the world.” – Jesse Siegal, SVP, Temporary Division
For some of you, this is the first time ever that you’ve had the chance to be at home this much with your kids. So, not being able to be fully present with them during this time might feel like something you’ll come to regret when looking back on this experience. Because of this, it’s important to establish time throughout the day where you are fully present with your kids. Eating meals together, especially at the same time every day (if possible), is a great way to do this. It’s something to look forward to, and it will help you feel more connected with your kids—even when it is time to hone in on work.
“This time is about teaching kids about flexibility. It’s important for parents to acknowledge how hard this is for their kids too.” – Berylin Schwab, Senior Staffing Manager, Legal
Change is never easy. While you may be stressed, the current situation is likely stressful for your kids as well, and they may be expressing their frustrations in different ways. They might miss play dates and seeing their friends, or attending big events such as prom or graduation. During this time, it’s important to keep your kids informed without scaring them, and to let the know it’s okay to be mad or sad. It’s also a good idea to try to remain positive and calm. Doing so will help your children learn how to handle stress and adverse situations like this one.
“Put the phone away, for an hour, or even two. After the day, it’s important to put the phone somewhere you don’t want to look at it.” – Melissa D’Esposito, Director, Healthcare
After a day of continuously being “on,” sometimes it’s necessary to unplug. At the end of the workday try to turn off your phone and leave it in another room. It’s so easy to crawl back into email, or other work tasks when you are constantly checking your phone—and let’s face it—being “connected” 24/7 is exhausting. Sometimes, a good way to get your mind away from the stress of the day is to just watch mindless TV. Although some are embarrassed to admit it, everyone has at least one favorite reality show they can’t get away from. Read Also: Can’t Take A Mental Health Day? 7 Ways You Can Still Recharge
“Before I go to sleep each night, I watch YouTube clips of people doing good deeds (feeding the less fortunate, people making donations or making products). It helps me balance my daily news intake.” – Theresa Mok, Senior Managing Director, Corporate HR
While staying informed is important—a lot of negativity is coming from the news these days—which can leave you feeling anxious and uncertain. Try to pull yourself away for a bit, and perhaps find something uplifting to read or watch. Even reading something that doesn’t mention politics or COVID-19 could really help boost your mood. Along with YouTube, check out these websites for some positive vibes: goodnewsnetwork.org, and sunnyskyz.com.
If your family would like to get in on the action, you can get together with your community (from a safe distance) and cheer on the healthcare workers. Theresa mentions, “There are several hospitals in our neighborhood, so when they do shift changes at 7:00 p.m., we stand on our balcony clapping, cheering, and waving to providers walking by.” Having this in the plans can also be something to look forward to every night.
“This will pass, don’t let the fear and anxiety overwhelm you. Everything will be okay, just keep fighting.” – Robert LaFragola, Managing Director, Accounting/Finance
This too shall pass. While these times can be tough, you will get through this, and you’re not in this alone. When it comes down to it, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. At the end of the day, know you are swimming, and while it can be challenging, you are doing a good job.
Bonus tip: Find the silver lining
It may be tough to manage so many priorities at once, but there is a silver lining to the current situation. For some of you, it’s getting to eat breakfast in the morning with your children, for others it’s getting to witness moments you may have missed while being in the office. These are times you will cherish forever as a parent.
- “Being a parent is the most incredible gift in the world and is taken for granted way too often.” – Robert LaFragola, Managing Director, Accounting/Finance
- “I posted on LinkedIn a week ago with a ‘Silver-Lining-Alert,’ when I realized that having been home 18 full days with my kids was the most consecutive full days I had spent with them EVER. That is crazy, and it made me realize how many little things I miss out on throughout the day.” – Jesse Siegal, SVP, Temporary Division
- “My son is changing every day. He just turned 7 months, and every single day he is showing us something new. I am so happy I am home to see all of this and spend this time with him.” – Melissa D’Esposito, Director, Healthcare