The Working Parent’s Guide to Balancing Family, Work and Social Distancing

In the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critically important to practice social distancing for the sake of the immunocompromised and vulnerable, and for many people, that means pivoting from working in an office to getting that bread at home. Setting up a home workspace comes with its own difficulties, but many newly-remote workers face an additional challenge: they are now sharing their “office” space with their similarly homebound kids. If you’re in that camp, don’t fear! One of our fantastic team members has prepared a selection of strategies to help  folks with kids who are now working from home stay sane, safe and healthy.

Rebecca Buel is our Speaker Relations Advisor. Around the office, she’s known for her indefatigable commitment to our culture, ability to throw together an instagram-worthy snack spread for a last-minute babyshower for a staff member, and the level of service she brings to our speaking partners. Rebecca is also a mother of four, Oliver (16), Poppy (14), Violet (12), and Nico (3), and she knows a thing or two about balancing work life and home life.

 To top off her expertise on the matter, she’s gathered a variety of tips from speakers, co-workers and friends. Check out our pointers below. Since they come from such different sources they may not be entirely consistent, but with any luck, you can find a handful of solutions that work best for you:

  • Don’t give in to the temptation to stay in bed and stick as closely as possible to your normal work schedule. Habits expert and best-selling author James Clear reminds us that “Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way.” You might not have to be anywhere, but you should still be up and ready to get after it at the same time you would on a regular day.
  • Start each day with your “Done by 1:00” list. 
  • There’s no shame in shutting everything down to watch Judge Judy. 
  • Clean out your inbox for 30 mins at the end of each day.
  • Get your family involved in at-home exercise programs. If your kids have way too much energy for standard options, have them try the infamous Brazilian Butt-lift workout dvd program. The fifteen minute session should be sufficiently rigorous  to wipe out even the rowdiest child.  
  • Connect with your clients and teams on social media.
  • Hide all of the good snacks so that your teenagers don’t eat them all at once (and then don’t forget the boxes of cereal in the bottom oven!).
  • Connect with extended family using a facebook group or scheduled Google Hangout, where everyone can take turns sharing one high point and one challenge from their day.
  • Order some treats from awesome shops like Onderchild. They’re putting together stay at home packs of eco-friendly educational and fun materials. Kids LOVE getting mail. 
  • Share your daily agenda/to-do list with your family so they know what to expect about your availability. If you have the capacity, designate a certain area of your home as a work-only space, whether it’s a full office or just a corner of your kitchen. Make it understood you are not to be disturbed during your stated work periods.
  • Make time for some good old fashioned board and card games with your kids. Uno, Monopoly, and Settlers of Catan are great choices to awaken your children’s competitive spirits (and often, nascent bloodlust).  For more creative or collaborative fun, try Apples to Apples, Scrabble, Imaginiff and Pictionary.
  • Limit your twitter time, or stay off of social media all together. The University of Colorado’s Health and Wellness Service recommends deleting apps that make you upset and “[moving] social apps off of your home screen. Having an extra step can reduce the urge to open the app as soon as you get on your phone.”
  • Now is a good time to use all that fancy soap you’ve been hoarding. Mothers especially (but some other parents too), you know exactly what I’m talking about.
  • If you have a partner/significant other, utilize them. If they’re also working from home, switch off on spending some time keeping the kids entertained and handling household tasks so that neither one of you becomes overwhelmed.
  • You aren’t entirely homebound! As long as you don’t linger in crowded places, you and your kids can still leave the house for some fresh air. Short walks are a great way to give your eyes a screen break and a way to get a little exercise.
  • It’s hard to stay positive, but do your very best to focus on the good. Help others where you can and ask for help when you need it. Being six feet apart from someone isn’t the same as being alone, and we’re all going through it right now.