I want to talk to you about something that’s affecting a lot of people.
Because of the Coronavirus, a lot of people are suddenly finding themselves needing to work from home, when they’ve never worked from home before. This is a massive change. If you’re the kind of person who is used to going into the office every day, you have your routines in place: You have your drive there with your coffee, you listen to the radio; on the way home you have your drive home to decompress.
But now your workspace may be at the kitchen table, and you have four kids running around. This is stressful!
When the boundaries of our office are taken away, we don’t always know how to set the boundaries that we need to get things done. Here are a few things you can do to help things run more smoothly:
Acknowledge The Situation
First, we need to acknowledge that this is a very different situation.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
Next, if at all possible, you need to set aside your own space, however, you can do that in your home so that it can be your dedicated workspace. Make it separate from the laundry room or the living room because you need that kind of compartmentalization.
Communicate With Your Kids
You also need to find ways to explain to your kids, who don’t understand, that “I can’t come to talk to you right now, I can’t play with you right now. (Mom or Dad) has to get this thing done.”
One of the best ways to do that is to be very direct. But when you’re being direct about this, make eye contact with them so that they know you’re validating their feelings. You might say, “I know you need to speak with me right now. Mom (or Dad) has this thing that I have got to get done for work. I can be with you in 10 minutes, and then you can have all of my attention. But before that, I have to give all of my attention to this work thing.”
Keep Your Word
But remember, once you say that, you have to keep your word! If you tell your child 10 minutes, you must stick to that 10 minutes. If you need to go longer than 10 minutes, help find them an activity and give them some downtime. Downtime might mean, “Okay, we’re going to have 20 minutes of quiet time. Mom is going to work over here, you get to color right here, and then we get to go do that thing you want to go do.”
If you will be preemptive with your children and explain ahead of time, I think these interactions will go a lot better and you will feel a lot better as a parent. It’s really all about communication and setting boundaries.