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Juggling working from home with children

Posted 19/03/2020 by Rebecca Duale

In these uncertain times, with the schools now closing it's hard not to panic and feel overwhelmed by the inevitable isolation that we are now facing. I think our faces in this picture shows exactly how we're feeling right now!

It is hard to explain what is happening in our society to a 10-year-old. I like many others have now had a holiday cancelled, his clubs are no longer running, and he will not be able to see his friends and family. My focus now is to try and explain this situation in a relevant way which he will understand and not feel scared.

Juggling full-time work with full-time mum

On an average week I am balancing my full-time work alongside being a full-time single parent. I am fortunate enough to work at a forward-thinking company that prides itself on flexible working which covers not only working from home but how you can structure your day too.

Working in such a positive environment has allowed me to not only thrive at work and continue to develop my career but has meant I am then more positive, and my wellbeing is balanced at home for my 10-year-old son.

How to maintain the work/mum balance?

The best advice that I find helpful is always to take one day at a time and plan for that day only. Looking after my own mental and physical wellbeing has never been more important. Myself and my son are social creatures and we do not have the benefit of family on our doorstep like many other people, but we will be using tech to keep in touch regularly.

Schools out so what will we be doing?

Here are some things which we are planning to do to both keep our spirits up and our focus on our jobs and more importantly his learning:

  • Setting a clear schedule each day for a balance of learning/work and breaks
  • Getting regular exercise and fresh air. It has never been more important that we go for a walk or out for a bike ride once a day.
  • Exploring new activities which we can do together. We have some new challenging jigsaw puzzles and Lego sets which we are going to build together.
  • Reading, word searches and other such activities.

Work and school day planning

In times like this when normality goes out the window finding a different routine can be difficult, but it can bring a sense of control. Planning your day and having a set schedule can help both children and you focus on the tasks that need to be complete for that day. Below are a few ideas that I’ll be introducing to our daily routine.

  • Learning/working in 45-minute sessions with time for a small break to review what my son has learnt.
  • We will be taking an hour’s lunch break together to go for our walk or bike ride. Some fresh air will help us both to focus again in the afternoon.
  • If I have something that I really need to concentrate on, I’ll be using the quieter time either early in the morning or later in the evening.

All these plans are what I’m aiming for but anyone with children will know that even with all the planning in the world, things don’t always go the way you want them to. I’ll be adding a week by week update on how things are going here on this blog so check back regularly.

If you are also facing these same challenges in the coming weeks feel free to drop me an email, I’d love to know how you’re coping with this current situation.

Week One Update

As week one of isolation and home working/schooling ends I don’t think we have yet adjusted to our new reality. We like everyone else are missing our family friends and I think this week has taught me how social I really am and the enjoyment of seeing people’s faces and communicating with them in person.

We have been sticking to our routine which has given our day a much-needed structure. I am set up one side of the table with my son on the other. There have been a few tears (not from me yet) trying to balance maths vs the colouring sheets in the home school pack.

Work for myself has been very busy this week as we work hard to learn all the new government developments and how we can best support our clients. We have a few new members of staff too and I am keeping in touch with them regularly via Zoom to help train them on the systems whilst they are remote working.

We are taking regular breaks and at lunchtimes we have been doing Joe Wicks daily exercise videos. As the sun has been shining we have been doing these in the back garden. I am sure I am amusing the neighbours with my lack of co-ordination.

We have started the puzzle. It is still very much a work in progress. I am sure this will be a very welcomed weekend activity. It has been years since I have sat down and completed a puzzle and it is requiring a new level of patience for the both of us. Trying to explain to a 10-year-old this will take hours was not met with the most enthusiastic response.

The working week has given me a sense of normality and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful to work for such a forward think and tech motivated company. The transition to home working and getting set up has been smooth and painless and I am sure all my fellow colleagues can vouch for that too.

In summary to help with those spinning plates I have a few tips of the week below

· Have a routine which supports both yourself and your family as this will help you all to be more focused and productive

· Add in some lunchtime exercise. This is helping break our day up and of course encouraging me to be more healthy

· Take some space for yourself

· Don’t stress and be too hard on yourself. I have to remind myself that I am teaching a 10 year old. If all else fails he will be the next best cloud accountant as I can teach that until the cows come home.

Week Two Update

This week has seen the dust start to settle and there is a greater sense of reality that I am at home and this is the new norm for now.

At Farnell Clarke we are always looking to adapt our process’ and systems for both our ever-changing staff and client base. This week I have focussed on setting up some new software’s to roll out internally. This is where working at home has really come into its element as it has meant I can get my head down and really focus on the tasks that require more of my time and concentration.

The home schooling has continued, and we have managed to get through the school pack for the term. I am feeling a sense of accomplishment as working and helping Reuben with his learning has really tested my multi-tasking skills.

After work we have been going for long walks. I think I have done more steps during these weeks that I would do in an average week.

We had a team quiz on Friday over Zoom hosted by Frankie. That was a great social end to our week and Reuben even joined in too, although I think he was more interested in controlling the mouse.

Week Three Update

It’s the end of week 3 and we have finished our first project. The Hogwarts castle is constructed, and it has turned out looking like the picture on the box which is amazing.

Like many others Reuben and I had a small holiday booked which has been cancelled. This has distracted him this week as he is old enough to know it is the school holidays, but he is still working through maths problems. I think he is finally understanding that sitting down doing this is not as boring as watching TV all day.

My main job role is business development and I have had a few enquiries this week from potential new clients. They are impressed that Farnell Clarke are ‘open as usual’ we were already set up for home working and to quote ‘there is a nice friendly and patient voice on the end of the phone which is reassuring in these very stressful times’.

We have the long bank holiday weekend to look forward to. This may be the time to start the puzzle. I think we only have 950 pieces to go!!

Week Four Update

The Easter bank holiday saw a welcomed 4-day rest. In some ways I am missing sitting in traffic as this was my time to relax after/before work and sing along (badly) to my favourite Spotify tunes. It meant I had time to process my day on the way home. But now as soon as I am finished from work it is straight in the kitchen to make tea.

I guess that is what I have taken away from this week. I need more time for myself whether that be sitting in the garden on my own with a drink after work or during the middle of the day just sitting on my own for a while.

Reuben has been enjoying his lack of routine this week and I am sure he has watched far too much TV this week! It is his week of rest and I am letting him make his own choices this week before the schooling starts again.

Week Five Update

This week has been tough. We saw a new home learning system introduced by the school which meant Monday was stressful trying to understand what was required from myself as a parent and Reuben doing the learning.

This is the first week Reuben has been overwhelmed and discouraged from his daily activities. It took a lot of energy to support him through these first few days but by Wednesday I think he had grasped it and now seems settled back into his learning.

Work for myself has been very process orientated. I have been setting up some internal software’s which has been a good learning curve for myself. I have found it harder to balance a task like this when remote working as there is always a call to take or a member of staff to support.

Next week I look forward to getting my marketing thinking hat on and exploring my business development role as other tasks start to settle.

Oh, and the puzzle is very much still a work in progress, we are definitely not puzzle people. But we are determined, and it will get finished.

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