Each of us have dealt with the global pandemic in our own way. Depending if you live alone, with others, as a married couple or a parent, different roles meant different responsibilities. Given this, how we respond to the “new normal” is often varied. Those lucky enough to continue working from home found a routine that allows them to be just as productive if they were in the office. Some are even able to incorporate new and old habits while staying safe at home. Out of the people mentioned above however, parents could have the toughest (yet most fulfilling) role. Parenting during the pandemic feels like several challenges all rolled into one.
Let’s get this out of the way: being a parent is certainly no easy task. Pandemic or not, it means juggling roles in your professional and personal life, all while being a spouse and parent too. Compound all these with the current pandemic restrictions and it becomes an even steeper hill to climb. But as several parents will tell you, it does not have to be that difficult. As with many solutions in parenthood, all you need to do is think a little outside the box.
Working With A Flexible Routine
As a parent, you have to always be flexible in your tasks and what you prioritize. Sure, work can come first but those often take a back seat when you need to give your children attention. One solution is separating spaces dedicated for work and family time. Some parents even create spaces that allow them to be near their children while they attend online classes. By clearly establishing these spaces, you know when (and where) it is time to turn “work mode” and “parent mode” on and off.
By having flexible routines, you can develop deeper family bonding. Doing so also makes it easier to plan your day and manage what you need to get done. The way most parents achieve this is having “block time” for particular tasks that lets them focus on one role at a time. In doing so, they get a clearer picture of what their priorities are in the long run (something we will also discuss below). In turn, maintaining a daily routine will help everyone stay occupied and manage their anxieties.
Because of this, it might not always be possible to finish your tasks during your work hours. Some parents may need to adjust to working during odd hours so that they can maximize the time with their children. Parents can look at what tasks or deadlines they can shift around to accommodate this, while keeping note of those that cannot.
Have Your Priorities And Stick To Them
Having a flexible routine also means being clear what your priorities are and working around them. When discussing what priorities mean, these fall under things defined by your values, principles, and goals. Yes, some parents will prioritise different things from those living alone, couples with no children and even their fellow parents. However, what’s common among them is the inclusion of their “non-negotiables.”
This ties in to being flexible with your schedule as well. For example, many will say that parenting during the pandemic means family comes first above everything. Parents will block off an hour or two each night for meal and family bonding time. That means no emails, calls or anything related to work should interfere during that period because it is non-negotiable for them. Conversely, you can continue building your working relationships with your peers through weekly virtual catch-ups that can be about work or anything under the sun.
Of course, these priorities need to be communicated clearly to friends, family and your workmates. To become truly productive means knowing what prioritise in your professional life, and knowing what (and who) matters most to you at home. If you have a strong enough support system on both ends, you can discuss your non-negotiables with them who should be more than happy to support your efforts. Remember that parenting during the pandemic does not have done alone.
Take It Easy Every Often
Even with all these in mind, the struggle continues to be real for many with their parental roles. There definitely was no manual on how parenting during the pandemic is supposed to be. Parents that manage both their children and job are some of the most resilient people on the planet. But they are still human and deserve some down time on occasion. Still, it’s sometimes easy to forget the full weight and impact of this unprecedented time that we are in. As such, give yourself a little credit and a break if things don’t go as planned. What also works for some as a parent may not also be the same for you.
But above all, be realistic about your outcomes and priorities. Remember, there’s only so much you can accomplish in a day. Being aware and knowing your limits can help you accomplish what you need to do. This can also help you appreciate the quality time you have with your family. As bleak as things were, the pandemic may be nearing its end soon. Knowing that this is all just a temporary setback and what lies ahead can be a powerful motivator.