In the pre-COVID-19 world, working parents all faced the same struggle – balancing their career and their home life. And now, the coronavirus pandemic has created a whole new array of challenges that many working parents are not used to. On top of adjusting to working remotely, most schools and daycares across the United States are closed. “Though many parents have had one ‘working-from-home day’ when a kid is sick or the weather is bad, the reality of working remotely every single day alongside your kids will be a steep learning curve for a lot of people,” says FlexJobs career development manager Brie Reynolds.
With summer quickly approaching, many parents are feeling overwhelmed. The summer activities children are used to doing may not be available this year, and parents are struggling to find ways to keep their children happy and entertained while still being productive and focused on work. This amount of stress can quickly lead to burnout. While you may think there is no time for self-care, parents need it now more than ever. In addition to the main components of self-care (a healthy diet and regular exercise), here are two important tips for working parents.
Tip 1: “Bundle” Friendship into Your Routine
Research shows that friends are a key factor when it comes to overall health and career success. Nurtured friendships are have been linked to stronger immune systems, improved emotional wellbeing, increased productivity and creativity, and even reduced mortality by up to 50%. However, the stress of balancing home and work life combined with social distancing guidelines is causing many parents to feel isolated from friends. There is a solution, though! A recent Harvard Business Review article explained that friendships are formed and strengthened through shared experiences. Considering everyone is being affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, connecting with friends over these experiences is crucial.
Regardless of where your friends live, technology is the best tool to help parents “bundle” their daily tasks with friends. “Bundling” means you can easily make time for friendship and connect over shared experiences by calling, Facetiming or having a Zoom call with a friend while you both do the same task. Examples include:
- If you and a friend work the same hours, set up a Slack channel where you can keep each other updated on goals and tasks for the day, motivate each other, and bounce ideas off one another.
- Use Zoom or Skype while you both are cooking dinner. Catch up with each other, talk about your days, swap recipes and just “hang out” while preparing a meal!
- Use noise canceling headphones or earbuds and talk to friend while you do housework, such as emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, etc.
- If you love baking, Facetime or Zoom with a friend and try out the same recipe together.
- Do a family Facetime or Zoom call with your friend’s family and pick out a movie to watch on Hulu or Netflix. Then after the movie, call each other back and have your families talk about the movie.
- Have a group Happy Hour on Zoom after the children are in bed and just relax. You can connect over the shared struggle of balancing working from home and parenting, swap ideas to make daily life easier for each other, and so much more!
Tip 2: Make Time for Your Hobbies
As a working parent, you always take care of your family first, prioritize time for your clients, manager or employer, and then rarely leave any time for yourself. However, to truly be your best self and give your absolute best to your family and work, you have to carve out time to recharge your energy. Now may seem like a selfish time to have a hobby, but hobbies are one of the best ways to relieve stress and relax. Broadly speaking, a hobby is something intentional and purposeful that you do when you make time for yourself, no matter how short that window of time may be. If you and your spouse are both working from home, try scheduling out time where one of you watches the children while the other gets some time for their hobby, and then switch.
While a hobby may not solve all your problems, it is an important piece of the work-life balance puzzle. Here are some examples of COVID friendly hobbies:
- Virtual workout classes
- Virtual cooking classes
- Virtual learning
- Going on runs or bike rides
- Nature walks or hikes