The second wave of the pandemic and children returning to school bring its share of getting used to. No parent is safe from a child with a runny nose and possible isolation. Flexibility and routine are two words that households will have to learn to consider together. Here are some tips to help you juggle work and family life under one roof.
It is essential to establish various game plans with your employer and to explain the possibilities of isolation or the periods of observation for you and your child. It’s better to have established different scenarios beforehand than to improvise in a time when you’ll have less peace of mind. By opening the dialogue now, you’ll feel less uncomfortable being absent or less productive.
Adjust your expectations
It’s obvious that there will be unexpected work-life balancing in our daily lives and a challenge to find time to complete both tasks. It’s important to know how to adjust the expectations of others and of ourselves. Similarly, you have to accept that returning to work will be anything but normal. Adjusting expectations will help you go through these more difficult times with less stress and less unsettling, negative emotions for the children.
Schedule “me time”
This suggestion occurs often, but it is usually postponed until later. However, it is very beneficial, according to Geneviève Harvey-Miville, a specialized educator. Getting into the habit of giving yourself time to take care of yourself will recharge your batteries and help you take stock of everything. Now is the time to dive into a novel, enjoy a long bath or go for a walk in the forest, for example. If you use a family planner, schedule a time dedicated to you only.
A dose of comfort food
Many aspire to have a perfect work-life balance, but what’s important to remember is that there are as many ways to do this as there are family models, said Harvey-Miville. For it to be effective, your approach must integrate your family’s values, so you need to find the right balance for you and yours. Organizing this each day will not be easy, and there will be times when you’ll need a little boost to keep your spirits up. Here are some small suggestions to make it happen:
Have a good laugh
Laughter brings joy to a difficult day. Why not fill a mason jar with written jokes for everyone to pull out and read. That way, everyone can read a joke to relax the atmosphere or even enjoy a hearty laugh watching old Jim Carrey or SNL clips!
Dose de réconfort
Freeze a few servings of your favourite dessert, a jar of your mom's amazing spaghetti sauce, or your best friend's favourite dish and let the magic of comfort food do its work.
Psst! Why not give others some of your own cooking to provide them with some solace on a tough day?
According to Harvey-Miville, a work-life balance also comes with times when it is almost impossible to completely ignore work. At times, it will be necessary to work from home, and it’s not always possible to wait until the children are in bed to do these tasks. From time-to-time you can slip a tablet, remote control or cellphone into their hands so that you can work in silence or get a few moments of rest. The important thing is to do this sparingly and keep in mind that these gadgets are not the equivalent of a babysitter. If you must use this technique, you can do so positively by pre-determining their maximum screen time and focusing on educational content. Make sure you stay in the same space as the kids, as this will make it easier to enforce limits and have better control over what they consume on screen. If this makes you feel guilty, remember that your child will be less upset from watching a few episodes of their favourite show than by your irritability if you’re stressed out about your workload.
Spending more time with your child, even while working, is a great way to introduce them to new activities or to introduce them to worlds that appeal to you. Does your child love comic books? Why not suggest that they design their own comic book based on a story you make up together? In addition to indulging in drawing, the creative process is rewarding. Would you like to pass on your love of reading to them? Pick a series of books from the library on a topic they enjoy. It will give you the opportunity to discover new authors. Want to clear your mind? Going out for a walk and spending time outside is exhilarating for everyone. It’s a great opportunity to collect leaves, branches and flowers and make a plant herbarium when you get back.
Keep a routine
Maintaining a consistent routine is important for young people. Despite the loss of certain constants, such as school, daycare, friends, etc., children are reassured by repeated daily habits. Isolation or not, getting up at the same time, taking breaks and going outside at set times instil calmness when life itself is not. It also sends a clear message to your child about the time slots dedicated to them and those in which you have to work. Those with toddlers know how to take advantage of naptime, those in a relationship can alternate work periods so that one of the two parents is with the child.
Symptoms to watch for
We may have the best game plan for successful telecommuting, but we are not immune to symptoms emerging. Below is a quick list of the main symptoms to watch for and what to do if they occur. Remember that according to Public Health and Social Services, if a child over 6 months old has had one or more of the following symptoms for at least 24 hours or if you think they have been exposed to COVID-19, it is better to keep them at home and avoid contact with other people.
Oral temperature of 38.1°C (100.6°F) and above
- Sudden loss of smell without nasal congestion with or without loss of taste
- Extensive fatigue
- Significant loss of appetite
- Generalized muscle pain (not related to physical exertion)
- Cough (new or worsened)
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Stomach aches
If one or more symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, perform the self-assessment.
In these extraordinary times, your health and that of your family remains the top priority. Work will never be as important as your psychological well-being and your family’s happiness. Be kind to yourself and rely on life’s little daily pleasures to get through this tumultuous time.