A Working Moms Quarantine Life – 5 Tips to Juggle Work and Motherhood During Lockdown

Fed up of riding by the seat of your pants, not knowing what’s going to happen from one day to the next? I hear ya girl! 

My days have been absolutely insane since the lockdown, the daily tasks that I never used to bat an eyelid at are now somewhat… that much harder to do! My morning coffee has turned into my little slice of me-time and solace from the (sometimes) overwhelming days. Many mornings I’ve sat there and wondered how on earth I’m going to juggle the kids, my job, squeeze in a food shop, get my workout done, as well as stay sane. But, I have devised a plan and some tips to tackle your lockdown days like a Boss and leave you patting yourself on the back. A job well done come the evening!

So here are my tried and tested top 5 tips for surviving the balancing act of work and motherhood during the lockdown period… and beyond. Tried and tested of course! 

Tip 1. Have A Schedule

We usually scoff at the idea of schedules and leave them for when we’re only in the office, or the kids are in school… but it’s something that’s often overlooked as a great tool to help us, moms, in our day to day lives. Whether it be a calendar, Trello, Monday, Asana, Office Outlook, or a reminder on your phone. A schedule will help you manage your day to day life, leaving you less overwhelmed and less wanting to reach for the bottle of wine at 11 am on a workday. 

I’ve personally found that using a schedule helps me have a rough outline of what is happening throughout the day or the week ahead, helping me not run around in circles, chasing myself (and the kids in the process). It has also prevented me from duplicating tasks and helped me the following day when I’ve got part way through a task and need to pick it up the day after, so I know where I had got up to. Before having a  schedule, I would end up just piling all the jobs I had to do that week in one long list which just ended up overwhelming and proved hard to manage my workload efficiently. 

Schedules aren’t just for our business savvy moms in work mode… They can also help you in normal day to day life. I often use mine for my personal life. You can clearly outline what days you’re going to do your food shop, what days you’re working (if you’re working from home), that Zoom calls with your girlfriends, your morning workout, and the day you’re going to dye those greys… just me? And you can share this with friends and family so they know your schedule, keeping everyone on the same page. 

Tip 2. Be Flexible

It may sound counterintuitive from tip #1, where a schedule usually falls in line perfectly with your day to day business operations. When you’re working from home your kids are suddenly involved, running in and out of your office space and arguing loudly in the background… sounds familiar? I can honestly say that this has happened all too often in our house. I can sympathize, it’s far from the most ideal working conditions. (Might have to call HR… Oh, wait! I am HR! Lol)

When you add kids to the mix whilst you’re working from home, suddenly tasks that were once easy prior to the lockdown take double or even triple the amount of time. That email that would usually take you a minute has now taken you 15 minutes… you’ve been trying to write the same sentence over and over again, whilst you’ve been diffusing an argument between your kids on who is allowed to choose the next movie that they’re going to watch and it’s only 10 am. I feel your pain, I’ve been there… Actually, I AM there!  

The step to working flexibly is to make sure you proactively communicate with your employer and/or your employees that you’ve got kids at home and that you can’t guarantee every conversation will be interruption-free. Try to ensure that your kids have plenty of activities to keep them entertained throughout the day, preferably ones that don’t require much intervention from yourself or mediation further down the line – pre-empt those classic arguments. Maintaining transparency with those you work with will hopefully mean that you can work flexibly, so you can dip out occasionally and help your kids when they need it and work when they’re occupied. Creating that flexibility is key, especially during this strange time.

Tip 3. Separate Mom and Business Time

Segregate your time accordingly, dedicating time for your work and time for your kids so neither one goes without attention. Giving both the time and effort they both deserve will create harmony in your days. By ensuring your work has a set time that you’re going to focus on it and the same with your children, you won’t find yourself torn between both… darting in and out of the living room to help the kids and then jumping back into work. By switching between tasks you will find that your productivity will take a massive hit, along with the quality of your work. You will be rushing to sort your children and reinforcing that it’s okay for you to keep hopping in and out of work, but ultimately creating a bigger issue for yourself down the line. Obviously, this can’t happen 100% of the time but helps as a rule, for when interruptions do happen see Tip 2! 

A good tip is to create activities for your children to do while you’re busy with work for a couple of hours at a time. This will give you enough time to get deep into work and make some really productive headway on jobs but also keeps the kids happy and out of your hair. 

Some activities I and the members of my community have used in the past that have worked really well are:

Babies:

  • Baby specific shows or videos
  • Naps, swings, bouncy chairs
  • Listen to musical songs

Toddlers:

  • TV shows 
  • Educational games and apps (the iPad is always a savior in our house!)
  • Sand play pits

Older Children:

  • Reading &, Writing stories
  • Drawing
  • Educational, positive or inspirational shows or movies (NatGeo is a great channel that teaches the kids at the same time) 
  • School platforms
  • Online games to get them socializing with friends

Tip 4. Tag Team

Do you have anyone who can help with your kids whilst you do a couple of hours of focused work? Possibly your partner, older kids, family… Maybe even virtually? The wonders that zoom calls can offer these days are endless. Think of friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, babysitters, teachers. These people are amazing resources because you can use them to arrange virtual playdates for your kids, even if it’s to talk, read, play games, sing or do dances. 

Not only will this keep the kids entertained for a bit so you can get on with work, but it is great to get them to interact with people outside of their household during the lockdown, virtually of course. Tapping into your social circles and getting the whole family involved can help build a great support network and even help other family and friends who may enjoy the interaction themselves during this lonely time. 

Both me and my husband often do blocks of 2.5 hours where he watches the kids while I crack on with work, then we swap. This works really well in our household and ensures that tasks and time are shared equally, so each of us has an equal opportunity to get our work done without interruption. We also try to maximize nap time and try and get as much work done as possible while the kids are down. 

Tip 5. Be Upfront

Not just with your employer but also with any clients. Truthfully, most of us are in exactly the same position and everyone that I’ve spoken to has been nothing but understanding. Out of courtesy, let anyone you’re speaking to know that you’re working from home and have kids in the house. This way, when the inevitable argument about the TV and who has control of the remote happens whilst you’re on your call, no one is surprised at the ruckus going on in the other room.

I’ve been upfront with my team that my hours of work are a bit all over the place at the moment and that sometimes I will be sending emails late at night, but I certainly don’t expect an answer straight away. And, sometimes our team zoom meetings will happen but with a lot of screaming and crying in the background because one of the kids doesn’t want to go to bed. 

Being honest from the outset is the best policy as it puts everyone in the picture of where you’re at. You’ll often find that the other person is in the same situation, if not with children but with other family members who don’t understand that they’re on a call, the postman knocks on the door or the family dog will start to bark at something. 

The Takeaway

Stick to a schedule that suits you and your family, try and keep work flexible as possible where you can to fit around your family life. Tag team with your partner between work and watching the kids for a happy home/work life. Be honest with everyone as we’re all in this together. Make sure that you take time out for yourself, whether it be for a glass of wine on the odd evening or a workout in the morning.

If you are feeling incredibly overwhelmed with your work-life balance during this time, and feel like there is no way you can make the time to take care of your fitness… Remember that if fitness has been a part of your life, completely stepping away from it might actually be detrimental to your physical and mental health. 

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