Working from home is a blessing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy. Indeed, there are a number of challenges – and a global pandemic only adds to them.
One of the more difficult aspects of COVID-19 on those of us who work from home (and even worse for those who don’t) is the full or partial shuttering of schools. Our children have missed out on crucial experiences when it comes to both learning and socialization. It’s hard to fathom the effect it will have over the long term.
For parents, this means an even more delicate balance between work and life. If you’re a web designer trying to both take care of your clients and your kids, it can feel like an impossible mountain to climb. It’s an awful lot of responsibility.
This is the situation I, and so many others find ourselves in. And while I don’t have the answers, I do believe that it’s healthy to talk about the challenges. So, let’s get it all out in the open, shall we?
Trying to Lessen the Uncertainty
In the early days of the pandemic, there was hope that its impact would lessen over time. In some parts of the world, that seems to be the case. But where I live, the reality has been quite the opposite. The hope of getting anywhere close to normal in time for the kids to go back to school just isn’t happening.
With that, my family has made the decision to go with an online-only school. It’s not ideal, but we’re at least hoping to bring a consistent routine to our daughter’s day.
It also means that I’ll continue to have a work buddy here at home. While this has been the case since the initial lockdowns were put in place, it has gone on much longer than we anticipated.
The main benefit, as I see it, is that we’ll know where we need to be each day. Rather than worry if school will be open on a particular day, we can (hopefully) count on the steadiness of a virtual classroom.
This is also a benefit to my business as well. Even if things are a bit different here at the home office, I can still maximize my availability to get things done. That beats uncertainty any day.
Getting Work Done with Kids at Home
Speaking of which, crossing items off the old to-do list is always a challenge. But it is particularly so when you’re simultaneously parenting and working.
When it’s just you and your little one at home, the feasibility of working becomes tougher. Of course, so much depends on the age of your kids and their ability to stay occupied with healthy activities. The younger the child, the more one-on-one time required.
Detail-oriented work such as design and coding can seem like an impossible task in this environment. Because, even when you know your child is involved in an activity, you still think about what they’re doing. And the inevitable interruptions make it hard to maintain focus on projects.
My daughter is a middle-schooler and independent enough that she doesn’t want me watching her every move. During the summer, my biggest challenge was getting her to ditch the tablet for a while and get a little exercise. Even so, getting my work done hasn’t been overly difficult.
With online school, my hope is that it keeps her engaged. And if she needs help with schoolwork, I’ll at least be around to give it a try (provided that I can remember anything from my middle school days).
Still, things won’t be that easy for a lot of parents. About the best we can do is try to schedule blocks of time when we know the kids will be busy and use it to get our own work done. With that comes the realization that things may not always go according to plan.
That may require extending project timelines to account for the extra responsibilities. It may also mean putting in time at night or on weekends. Not the most desirable course of action, but necessary nonetheless. We have no choice but to play the cards we’re given.
Viewing Unexpected Togetherness as a Unique Opportunity
It seems like the word “unprecedented” has been used, well, an unprecedented amount of times recently. Maybe it’s cliché, but also very much appropriate to describe what we’re facing.
Web professionals who are also parents – we’re used to having multiple roles. Getting the kids to and from school and extracurricular activities, all while finding time to do some work in-between. It’s just what we do.
But thinking of a school year where our kids are home with us is completely new territory for many. We may have had some time to rehearse, what with all of the changes we’ve already endured. Yet this challenge may be the biggest of all.
It’s going to be difficult. There will be days where you may wonder how in the world you can manage everything on your plate. How do you keep both clients and kids happy? More importantly, how do you ensure that your child is getting the attention they deserve?
Thankfully, none of this requires perfection. Instead, it’s going to take the ability to accept the good, the bad and the things out of our control. It’s about making the best of the situation, regardless of the difficulties.
On the bright side, this could be an opportunity that you may never have considered. The extra time together, the learning, the growing. There is much to be gained and reasons to be thankful.
It’s on us to take advantage now, so that we can look back fondly years down the line.