Health & Well-being Home & Food

Welcome to the juggle: Well-being tips for working from home

Working from home

The reality of working from home, especially when you’re a parent, doesn’t always match up to the serene images we see on Pinterest. You know the ones – minimalist desktop, perfectly positioned house plant, coffee cup to complement the decor... Even if you have nabbed yourself a quiet corner of the house and set up a work station that is both ergonomic and inspiring, the struggle is real. Thanks to Covid, we’re all now familiar with the highs and lows of ‘home offices’. Here are five tips to enhance your well-being while you juggle work with kids, laundry and feeding the cat.

Look after yourself

As always, our most important message to parents is to prioritise self-care. Our children need us to take care of ourselves so we can best take care of them. So go easy on yourself and do something each day that fills your tank – even if it is as simple as drinking your coffee outside in the sun.

Share your schedule

Let your family know about the Zoom calls you need to be present for and the tasks you need to tick off by dinner time. This way your kids have an expectation of how much work you need to do, the times of the day when you can’t be disturbed, and the times when you can down tools and play.

Go with the flow

While a schedule is handy, working from home requires flexibility. Interruptions and distractions are par for the course. Consider it a ‘water-cooler break’ when you have to pause to help find a Lego piece or make someone a sandwich.

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Early mornings/late evenings – preferably not both

Those quiet hours when children are asleep are a working-from-home parent’s most productive timeframes – if you can get yourself out of bed to make the most of them. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea (although tea and coffee certainly help), but working from 5am till 8am offers a real head-start to the day, and allows you a chunk of time to spend with your kids later on. Likewise, 7-10pm could be your hours of power. But going back to our original point – looking after yourself requires getting good sleep, so burning the candle at both ends is unlikely to be productive in the long run.

Stay connected

During the 2020 lockdown, our in-house child and family psychologist, Dr Linde-Marie Amersfoort, shared a concept that was music to our ears: the power of the one-minute check-in. Basically, she reminded us that kids benefit hugely from moments of focused connection. Moments! 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, swivelling your chair away from your screen 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. Joining your kids for just five minutes, in whatever activity they’re engaged in, could hit refresh for everyone and inspire another hour or so of productivity and calm.

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam is a passionate communicator, especially on topics relating to families. After 20 years in Auckland working mainly in publishing, Ellie now lives in Northland, with her husband and their three daughters, where she works from home as content editor for Parenting Place. Ellie writes with hope and humour, inspired by the goal of encouraging parents everywhere in the vital work they are doing raising our precious tamariki.

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