When your household first went into quarantine earlier this year, your entire world probably changed overnight. If you’re like many parents, you suddenly became a telecommuter and teacher who spends most of your time in your home, sweet home.
Fast forward until today, and you are likely still at home the vast majority of each day. You probably feel like one of those circus performers who keeps multiple plates spinning on sticks all of the time—only on many days, at least a few of the plates come crashing down to the floor.
Here is some reassuring news: there are ways to balance work, school, and life while quarantined. Here’s how:
1. Schedule Everyone’s Day
When you are in quarantine, it is easy to feel like all of your days are blending together. To help create a much-needed sense of control during these unusual times, as well as a feeling of normalcy, create schedules for every family member. Knowing that your tweens and teens will be in an online class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then will have household chore time from 4 to 5 p.m. every day before enjoying free time in the evenings will not only help them feel safer and more “normal,” it will also allow you to set aside complimentary chunks of time for your work.
As much as you can, try to accomplish your work-from-home projects when your children are busy with their schooling and hobbies. For younger kids who need more of your help during the day, try to spread out your own working time into smaller amounts that will allow you to take care of them. For instance, schedule two hours of work in the early morning before your kindergartener starts online school, then do two more hours during the afternoon and two more at night.
2. Enjoy Quality and Intentional Family Time
Rather than let family time take place here and there, try to be intentional about the activities you do together. For example, if your kids are budding cooks, let them take turns planning and preparing a meal. Instead of letting your teens veg out alone with video games, announce a friendly competition and join in the fun.
To make the family gaming experience as enjoyable as possible, do what you can to improve how well your internet, computer, and other gaming devices work. For example, ping is directly related to online gaming performance—the lower your ping, the better the gaming experience will be. If this all sounds like Greek to you, no worries—Cox offers easy to follow tips on how to lower ping. These include selecting a game server that is physically close to you and turning off updates while you are playing.
No matter which family time activities you choose, you will feel less guilty devoting part of your day to your work because you know that at 5 p.m. you will make tacos with your crew and then settle in for some serious Batman video gaming action.
3. Plan Ahead for Interruptions
Nothing will make you feel like you are failing the whole work-family balance thing faster than being on an important work call while in the background your 7-year-old is asking for goldfish crackers and help with the DVD player.
To help prevent this from happening as much as you can, plan for interruptions ahead of time. For instance, mute your background when in a Zoom meeting with the boss—this way, she can’t hear your dog barking or your kids bickering in the other room. Also, consider creating visual cues that your kids can use to determine if they are allowed to talk to you or if you need quiet time.
You can create a traffic light out of construction paper that you can hang on the office door and use a red, yellow, or green circle to indicate if you need to be left alone for the time being, if your kids can talk to you if it’s really important, or if they are welcome to come in and gab.
You Will Get Through This
Balancing work, family and everything else can be challenging even under ideal circumstances, so please be gentle with yourself as you navigate this goal during these trying times. By creating predictable schedules, focusing on quality and intentional family time, and planning ahead for how to handle interruptions, you should feel more in control of all that you have to accomplish.