Before we got locked down in our respective homes, a lot of us considered working from home to be less stressful, and something that allowed us more liberty. And why won’t that be? It meant not taking the long commute to work, staying close to kids, staying away from toxic coworkers – it all sounded like a dream of every disgruntled employee.
But do you feel the same way any longer? With all of us hooked on to our screens all day long, the novelty of working from home is wearing off and the challenges are becoming more apparent. Also with schools and daycares shut, kids are homebound and parents can no longer rely on their support network, grandparents, day care. And amidst all this existing chaos, teachers are burdening parents with the job of schooling kids and demanding that kids be given dedicated learning space for online classes to ensure ‘valuable time is not lost’. But is that so simple?
What can we do?
This sort of remote working is new to all of us and is making us all anxious and restless. According to Sana Rubiyana, counselling psychologist, Fortis LaFemme Hospital, Bangalore, “Working professionals are spending a lot of time on screen for their office work leading to added pressure, it is important to maintain a schedule for each day, prioritizing the task is the key. The tasks which are extremely important and due soon must be completed first. A break from the screen should be put into place after each task. During this break you can treat or reward yourself. Doing physical activity or exercising at home for at least 20 minutes should be given priority. While exercising a hormone called Endorphins is released also known as a happy hormone. So you are not just physically taking care of yourself but also it will help in elevating your mood. Working from home can be quite stressful for which “ME TIME” is very important, what I can recommend is give yourself at least 30 minutes a day and indulge in self-care or do something which you are passionate about.”
Here is a quick summary and action list
1) Manage expectations with yourself first. You can’t expect yourself to be as productive and organised with kids around. So allow yourself some grace. Secondly, let your peers know that you may be working at odd hours to make up for the reduced capacity through the day. Last, if your kids are old enough, tell them they shouldn’t interrupt your working hours.
2) Where both partners are working, it is important to plan the day ahead – who will attend work calls when, who will cook, who will feed the children, who will do the dishes, to ensure that work is divided and it is easy to anticipate the day’s work load.
3) Create a routine. Try and wake up early. Do morning chores, bathe the children, cook, feed and eat, give them puzzle books or colouring books, allow free play, screen time. Allow them some extra screen time without feeling guilty, because you are not going to win a parenting marathon by being harsh on yourself. In fact make your kids watch history channels, content that helps them understand the world around. Make them listen to podcasts and free ebooks.
4) Prep meals are important. Before you hit the bed every night, do some level of planning for the coming day’s meals and snacks. That will help you not spend too much time on cooking and planning meals.
5) Exercising is important for you as well as your child at this point. Play some workout videos for kids on the screen and let your kids jump, jiggle and burn energy. Join them to make it fun for them. This will release happy hormones and keep you happy too!
The need of the hour is to rely on each other and keep supporting one another. Working from home can be more challenging for some, with limited space or restricted bandwidth being an issue, so let us all sail through this uncertain as well as uncharted territory together, in the best way we can.