With an increasing number of offices asking staff to work from home and many schools closed, the Coronavirus pandemic has upped the stakes in the work-life balancing game. TCA Trainer and award-winning family coach Sharon Lawton is sharing her top tips to adjust to this new normal with your whole family.

Working from home, studying for your diploma and juggling the children all day isn’t easy. Having to multitask and split your focus can make life feel very stressful. Having incompatible demands placed on your intellectual and emotional resources can cause anxiety. And there is no doubt that the working and parenting in conjunction is likely to increase the mental load. It might not be long until it feels all too much.

How do you care for the children, fulfil your work and or study obligations and maintain a level of composure? How do you ‘do it all’ at the same time? How do you create calm in the chaos?

As we all adjust to a new kind of normal it’s important to have a plan to balance the demands of being a parent and working or studying from home.  Here are my top tips for claiming your calm, and working more effectively when the kids are at home.

     1. Routines – however tempting it might be, it’s really important to keep to the children’s routines at home as much as possible. 

Our brains pattern match and so we feel calmer and more in control when our brains connect with our usual familiar patterns (think how out of sync the kids usually are in the school hols) 

Plus - Having a visual timetable can also be valuable so everyone knows what to expect from the day.

     2. Establish Boundaries – Try to start everyone’s day at the usual time, however also be aware that you may need to start your day earlier than usual to get a couple of interruption-free hours of work in before the family starts their day.  Also, remember that usual boundaries may have to flex sometimes (eg you may need to let your child have a little more screen time than usual if you have an important call to make or need to give something your full attention. 

Ensure they see this as a special treat and not a new normal!

     3. Appropriate expectations – It’s really important to have appropriate expectations of yourself and your children but also to manage the expectations of others (and this might include your boss)!  That might mean that you aren’t able to work 7 hours straight due to the family being home, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do your job well.  Help the kids to understand that there will be times you need to be in “do not disturb mode”  discuss how long this might be and how often and also how you will communicate that to them and other members of the family.  When I am video coaching with clients from home, I have a red sign on my home office door which shows that I’m not available at that time – what can you use that is similar?)

     4. Organise!  Get yourself a clear space in which to work, create yourself a daily to-do list, set your intention for the day and write up a schedule for you and your kids for your work, study and their school/learning time

     5. Use The Pomodoro Time Management Technique – this can be a really beneficial and extremely productive way of working.  Break your working day into 25-minute chunks.  After each 25 minute chunk, you take a 5 or 10-minute break to check in with the kids, set them up with a new task, connect with them, get them a snack etc.  (See below for the full technique)

     6. Flexibility is the Key – Maybe if you and your partner are both working from home then discuss having alternative shifts for working/supporting the kids.  This means you are both able to get some uninterrupted work time and the kids get some quality-focused time from their parents too.

     7. Mindset!  It’s important to examine your mindset and accept that you may not always be able to be as productive as you want. Be kind to yourself, this is new territory.  But what if we see this as an opportunity!  A gift!  The gift of time to refocus on the importance of our relationships and the time we have with our family.  What we choose to do with that gift is up to us.  We can choose to learn, grow, connect and evolve and come out of this strange and difficult time with family relationships that are stronger and more connected – after all family life and the time we spend together is the glue that holds us all together.  In my family (I have two boys age 17 and 21) we have chosen to play a game of cards or a board game after dinner every night.  What can you do to reframe to a positive this time we now have together?

      The Pomodoro Technique

This is a really beneficial and extremely productive way of working, and also a popular time management technique.  

  • Break your working day into 25-minute chunks. 
  • Chose your task or series of tasks to work on 
  • Use a timer and set notification of 25 minutes (use your phone or other timing device or app)
  • Work solidly for that 25-minute chunk – limit distractions, focus on the task at hand
  • After each 25-minute chunk _ take a 5 or 10-minute break to check in with the kids.
  • Use that time to set them up with a new task, connect in with them, get them a snack, tend to their needs etc.
  • After around 4 rounds of Pomodoro, you take a longer break of around 20 mins

 

If you're currently taking care of children, let us know - how are you creating a fun and calm environment for them?
Make sure you stay connected with the TCA community throughout this challenging time and share your stories! Home study is not alone study and the TCA students are leading the way in supporting each other and their communities. 
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