Firstly, let’s clarify – all mums are working. Forget the 9-5, mums work 24/7. For the purposes of this article, we’re talking about mums who have paid employment and thus responsibilities to an employer. Or those entrepreneurial mamas who are self-employed and have responsibilities to their customers. Lockdown is tricky for parents, with time and energy stretched thin across a range of demands. For mums who are also employed and have relocated from the office to the dining table, there are some additional pressures…
Locked down working-from-home mamas – this article is for you. And while ‘working from home’ will look different from house to house, one thing we suspect will be consistent: it’s busy! You’re no doubt short on time, so we’ll keep this encouragement brief…
Your kids are going to be okay
Lockdown with kids is hard work, and sometimes ideas for fun family activities are helpful and inspiring. Other times, those crafty Instagram-able suggestions can be just plain guilt-inducing. As much as you’d love to spend the afternoon with your kids making a model of your street out of cardboard boxes, play dough and pipe cleaners, you’ve got another Zoom conference scheduled and a report to write before dinner time.
We want to encourage all the parents out there, but especially those juggling work deadlines while simultaneously supervising online learning at the dining table, attending teddy bears’ picnics in the lounge and coaching teenagers thorough a spaghetti bolognaise recipe in the kitchen – connection with our kids is of prime importance right now but quality trumps quantity.
Last lockdown, our in-house child and family psychologist, Dr Linde-Marie Amersfoort, shared a concept that was music to my ears: The power of the one-minute check-in. Spending large chunks of focused time with our family members sounds lovely, but it may not be achievable right now. And that’s okay. “Keep it short and simple – grab moments for a one-minute check-in,” encouraged Linde-Marie.
So, welcoming a child onto your lap and taking a break from emails to watch giraffes on YouTube – that’s a powerful connection moment right there. Likewise, downing tools to give a child a long hug only takes a few moments, but speaks volumes. Checking in with your teen to ask them what they’re up to a couple of times a day – hugely meaningful and generally achievable. Getting down on the floor with your preschoolers and joining them with whatever play they’re engaged in for just five minutes could hit refresh for both of you and inspire another hour or so of productivity and calm.
All that to say, (sorry, I know I said we’d keep this short!) – your kids are going to be okay with you working alongside all the other activities going on in your home. Powerful connection can happen in all sorts of moments – from the everyday domestic essentials through to the intentional, focused and lovely one-on-one activities. The key is to appreciate moments as they naturally occur, rather than having high and unrealistic expectations that set us up for failure. Failure is not even in our vocabulary right now – no one’s doing it perfectly, good is good enough!
Kids on screens more than usual? They’ll be okay. Kids working their way through their online learning pretty much independently? They’ll definitely be okay. Kids not making a model of their street in miniature? Yep, they’ll be okay.
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Your contribution is valuable
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to get us questioning our life choices. Caring for a family while also answering the call of colleagues is a tricky negotiation. The question ‘Is it worth it?’ has probably crossed the mind of many a locked down working-at-home mama. For many of us, however, work is not an option. You may be the sole bread-winner or maybe two incomes are needed to make your household budget work.
Employment also offers benefits that aren’t just financial. Our encouragement to the working-from-home mamas – your contribution is valuable and dynamic. The ripple effects go beyond what is obvious, especially with regards to the modelling you are providing for your kids. Responsibility, self-management, time-management, creativity, focus, discipline… it’s all on display when you strategically fit your working hours into your lockdown life.
You deserve looking after too
We see you, thinking about everyone else all the time and using every minute of the day to look after your people. Me-time? Yeah right. However, self-care is so important right now – our ability to look after our family depends on us taking the time to first look after ourselves. Pouring from an empty cup doesn’t do anyone any good really, so don’t believe any nagging voice in your head that suggests your needs can drop down the priority list (basically into oblivion) in order to get All The Things done each day.
Prioritise some time that’s just for you. You are absolutely, totally, definitely worth it. And yes, it’s easier said than done. But even just a ten-minute walk by yourself, a cup of tea in the sun, a hot bath and a good book, closing your laptop in the evenings and watching a movie instead… These are small gestures of self-care, but they have the potential to make a big difference to our well-being, and in turn – that of our family, too.
Looking for more personalised strategies and solutions for your family?
Our family coaches are still available during the lockdown and can meet with you online. We’ve also introduced a shorter 30-minute appointment type, to make things easier while you navigate family life with everyone at home.