Stressed about what to give your child for lunch? Worried that the WiFi will crash right before that next Zoom meeting? Have you been wearing the same oversized shirt for 5 months because you don’t have time to do laundry? (I know I can relate to that last one) For working parents, taking care of a child amidst a global pandemic can be a nightmare. But, it doesn’t have to be.
When juggling your personal schedule with your family’s agenda, it may be tempting to try to do everything at once. After all, why not try to cook dinner while fitting in a meeting on Zoom with your manager? It’s just killing two birds with one stone – nobody will know that you’re making spaghetti if your camera’s off! However, doing this may prove to be counterproductive.
“To do two things at once is to do neither.”– Publilius Syrus
While multitasking may seem like the answer during a frantic time such as this, research has revealed that doing more than one task at once can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. Rapidly switching between multiple tasks makes it difficult to focus without distractions. Therefore, in order to maximize productivity, it is important to clearly map out your schedule. To read more about extensions that can aid your work schedule, click here. Now that you know multitasking will not help (and can even be detrimental towards success), here are five tips for navigating the workplace as a parent:
1. Stick to a routine
Common sense, right? Well, it’s critical to not overlook this step despite how “easy” it may seem. By maintaining a consistent schedule, you will have a solid idea of what each day typically consists of. Therefore, it will be easier to plan around your set schedule.
Start off with writing down which events are most important and consistent during your week. For example, if your child has school Mondays through Fridays from 9am-3pm, make note of that in your routine. If you have a company meeting every Tuesday for an hour, make sure to include that. If you don’t remember what times you’re available a certain day, or you’re in a rush and need to know where the nearest Starbucks is (for your very important daily dose of caffeine), these tasks can all be easily accomplished with various apps. For example, you can easily keep track of your established routine through Google Calendars or the Apple Calendar App. If you set reminders on your electronic device, you’ll be notified every time an event is coming up.
2. Prepare modified schedules
Preparing modified schedules are just as important as sticking to your routine. After all, life is unpredictable. If we didn’t think so before, we sure do now. Using the model routine you’ve created in the first tip, next build an alternate schedule that accommodates it. This schedule can include meals, chores, and other necessary activities while still upholding the routine.
When creating your modified schedule, here are a few questions that you should ask yourself:
- What will you and your family be eating for each meal?
- What is your child’s schedule?
- When is it necessary for you to have a silent environment? (company meetings, phone calls)
- When will chores be taken care of? (dishes, laundry, housekeeping)
It’s important to remember that every person in the family has their own agenda. By establishing fluid communication amongst every family member, this will aid in greater flexibility with everyone’s schedule. Modern Village provides an example of how to create an efficient work schedule that incorporates familial duties here.
3. Create a space for your child
One of the hardest parts about being a parent during quarantine are the challenges with your child being, well, a child. Whether your child is shouting “Yes!” at their video games while you’re having a conference meeting on Zoom, or you’re greeted with a pile of toys sprawled out across the kitchen floor, these are all issues that can result in high levels of stress.
To combat this, try creating a designated time and place for your child to be able to play and work freely. In doing so, you won’t have to worry about a sudden mishap like a Nerf gun battle during your next company meeting. Remember that the goal is to limit as much uncertainty and chaos as you can by establishing a consistent routine.
4. Take control of your inbox
It’s essential to not overlook the importance of emails during this time. Email communication is one of the primary forms of communication – it’s where information such as Zoom links and agendas are being relayed. Therefore, the mountain of emails that continuously piles up throughout your day may end up hiding important information.
Just the thought of digging through hundreds of emails may seem like a daunting task. However, controlling your inbox is not as tedious as it may seem when done correctly! For example, you can use a timer to remind you to allot 30 minutes (or any other amount of time) daily to purely catch up on emails. Use this time to organize your emails, create folders for work or your child’s school, delete old emails, and respond to those that you’ve been putting aside. You’ll be surprised by how much progress you’ve accomplished in as little as a week. A great option would be to utilize the Wing app’s Wing for Business functions, which can easily accomplish email organization for you! If you’re too busy to respond to emails, the Wing app can send replies on your behalf.
5. Implement technology in your routine
One fortunate thing about the timing of this quarantine is that it’s happening amidst a technology-rich era. Harnessing the power of technology can allow you to have a smooth routine, resulting in less stress. There are many examples of using technology to better your lifestyle. Here are a couple simple ways you can incorporate technology into your routine:
- As mentioned before, Google Calendars is an efficient way to lay out your schedule. Through the color coding function, you can distinguish your fixed routine from your more flexible modified schedule.
- Download Google Docs on your phone. If you’re on the run to pick up groceries for your dinner, having the ability to edit documents right in the palm of your hand is extremely useful.
- Use the Wing App as an on-the-go assistant. Wing is capable of various daily tasks such as grocery shopping, managing your calendar, and taking care of your pets among many other things. With Wing, you’ll be more in control of your immediate tasks.
- Listen to music on streaming services such as Spotify. Everyone needs a time to relax, and finding the right tune can help facilitate your space to unwind.
Having control of your daily life is one way to lessen the uncertainty of the pandemic. Juggling the tedious task of child care with work may seem daunting, but utilizing these tips can alleviate a large portion of your stress. Remember that the goal of being successful both in the workplace and at home is to maintain a consistent schedule alongside effective communication with all members of your family. Creating an efficient schedule will ensure less “uh-oh” moments and more bump-free days ahead!