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Q&A: How can parents achieve work-life balance when majorly working from home?

By Bianca Gutierrez
Can parents separate work from their family life when they now work from home during the pandemic?

I’ve already said it a million times – this parenting thing does not get easier. It is easy to assume that when kids get older, they’re easier to handle. But nope, it just gets more and more difficult. Parenting is just not something you can be a pro at. Just when you think you’ve got your kid down to a science, well, your child changes.

That’s not all. Other aspects of your life that you want to control will change. For sure many of us have been blindsided due to this pandemic, which forced us all to work from home, blurring the lines between parenting and work at the office.

But first, take a breath and be grateful. Be grateful that technology has allowed us to continue working. Be grateful that your company has taken a risk and a leap of faith in the resilience of its employees and has not shut down. Be grateful that schools have gotten onboard with distance learning, so you don’t have to worry about choosing between your child’s education and their health. Grateful that we get to take care of business, and at the same time watch our children grow.

I had a mentor that once told me that he doesn’t believe in work/ life balance. In the tapestry that weaves these two elements together, when you step back, you will see that what you have is LIFE in its totality.

It may sound beautiful and romantic, but the reality is that it is also chaotic and messy. This is the sentiment of the vast majority of mommy blogs you’ll see online. There’s the stress of keeping the kids quiet while you’re in a videocon. There’s the nagging thought of dishes that need to be washed and laundry that needs to be ironed and put away. And now that the kids are learning from home, there’s that anxiety that if they don’t do well, you can’t blame it on the teacher anymore, since you’re expected to do the teaching. And you’re just so completely exhausted.

A plan of action isn’t easy to come by, but maybe if we segment the issues and address them in pieces, it will be slightly less overwhelming.

1. Kids interrupting your videocon

I’m lucky to have the help of a nanny who takes care of my children – one of whom is school-aged and the other an infant. She makes sure the kids are entertained and contained in the other room while I take my calls.

Since I can entrust them to the nanny, I make sure that I take care of the nanny! She can’t go out, so I’m much more lenient about her cellphone use and TV/YouTube time. I pick up anything she needs from the grocery and make sure we get whatever snacks she wants, and take care of the remittance fees when she needs to send money (and occasionally I give her more to send).

For those parents that have to do it themselves (I salute you!), meetings can be set during naptime. Or if your kids are old enough to be left with arts and crafts activities safely in another room, a CCTV will help you keep an eye on him while you’re in a meeting. Surely if an emergency comes up, your colleagues will understand if you step out for a bit.

2. Endless Chores

I had a manager in the past who spoke during our Women’s Network meetup about her penchant for outsourcing EVERYTHING. Everything includes laundry, cooking, cleaning,  tutoring her kids, even packing her clothes for business trips. Her philosophy was that anything that takes time away from her kids that isn’t work can be outsourced. This way all the time spent with her kids are happy, stress-free moments, versus arguing over math homework, for example.

Yes, I agree that it is a bit more challenging to outsource tasks now due to the threat of this virus coming into our home, but it can be done. We just need to get more resourceful and creative.

Here are a few examples:

  • There are so many home cooks out there that can prepare a week’s worth of meals delivered at your doorstep.
  • Laundromats are classified as essential and can pick up and deliver.
  • Groceries can be done online when you can’t sleep in the middle of the night.
  • Cleaning crews can come over – though I suggest you get them PPEs to mage sure you are protected
  • Online tutors can help with homework. I know of a company that offers tutorials in 10min increments so it’s affordable.
  • The savings from this (or from this year’s vacation) can be used to buy a dishwasher.

3. Distance Learning

Parents are working from home, and kids are learning from home too. We can synchronize our meetings with their class sessions. But when they’re done with class and need help with homework, what then? If online tutoring is not for you, why not take your meals together? We do this at our house. This way, we can catch up and I have time to answer my son’s questions before I have to go into another round of meetings.

4. Exhaustion

Physical and mental exhaustion are things that need to be addressed before you become a weepy mess that your husband has to scoop up from the bathroom floor. Do not underestimate the power of a 10-minute nap, just a quick time out to close your eyes and breathe. Learn to meditate if you find it difficult to nap. Lie down with your feet up. Or sit back with your feet in a basin of warm water, maybe while stuffing your face with chocolate. Whatever works for you.

These tips are by no means applicable to everybody; we all have our own situations to deal with. When things get rough, just like in the office – step back, regroup, segment issues into little digestible pieces, and set an action plan for each. And always, always, be grateful.

Bianca Gutierrez is the E-Commerce segment head for iRipple.
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