Starting Week 2 in quarantine, we’ve refreshed from the ‘weekend’; ready for the week ahead. Thinking about this being the new norm for the long-haul is overwhelming so, like most, we’re just taking each week (and day) as it comes. Last week was ‘adjustment’ week. We took everything slow. Even getting dressed each day was classed as a successful day. Also like many, we’ve had our moments; moments of “is this really happening?”. We’ve had to make time to sit down with our husbands to work out how we manage all our work over the coming weeks/months, we’ve even sat down (over facetime of course) as the four of us to work out each other's schedules to work out the best way we manage work and the kids (and our sanity!). Towards the end of week 1, we started to implement little things but went more with the flow, to ease the kids in.
So now, as we start week 2, we properly start our ‘new norm’ schedule which we’re mentally and physically prepared for! As anyone who has their own business will know, although you have the benefits of managing your own working hours, it never really stops does it? It's 24/7. So as much as we would love to put it on the back burner and focus solely on family, at this weird time, it's simply not possible, not for the business, or for our sanity. We’ve put too much into this and come so far so a schedule was the best thing for all of us.
We’ve been working from home since we launched and before that, in both our Corporate jobs before Little Senses Whole Foods. With everyone adjusting to this ‘new norm’ of working from home and whilst we are all in this together, we wanted to share some of our tips for managing so you can work, have the kids and maintain your health. We’re confident that it can be done. So here are our top tips on working from home during quarantine and also WFH in general, as we think many businesses will see the successful impact and will start to introduce new measures to accommodate when things are back to normal.
1. Routine – Shower, get dressed and maybe even slap on some makeup!
Ok, its an obvious one but its so effective and easily missed. I remember pre-kids days of WFH; wake up at 10mins before I log in and stayed in bed in my PJs doing emails and conference calls. All that meant was; I ate badly, as the day just merged into one big blob so wouldn’t head down until later then just snacked the whole day. Waking up and getting dressed gets you set mentally and physically.
Whilst on quarantine, we’ve had a morning focal point with The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, that has given us an anchor. We couldn’t recommend enough. Whether its Joe or just something to do each day with the kids to give you all something to focus on and get dressed for, it will start the day right and the kids enjoy the familiarity of some constants.
2. Work out your ‘Prime’ time and your priorities
Avi and I are both morning people so the work schedule we’ve agreed on means we can be up early (6am-9am) whilst the kids are either asleep or being dressed and given breakfast by dads. By 9am we’re all doing Joe Wicks. This means we can get in 3 hours work each before the guys have to log on to their work (sometimes, when it's been a tough night, we start at 7am – the key here is that the dads manage wake up and breakfast). Then we can enjoy the morning with the kids until nap time at 12. This then gives us 2 hours where the guys try not to book meetings over lunch and only have the big kids. We try to take this time to go for a quick run and lunch and we still have an hour to squeeze in some work whilst we save the fun activities we know will keep the big kids occupied, and yes, some of that does include TV! Ok, it might sound full-on but it genuinely keeps us sane. It means we can juggle the 3 big things: WORK, KIDS and HEALTH.
3. Have a workspace area
I changed my dressing table in our bedroom for a desk. Somewhere I can be out of the way of the kids when I’m trying to work. Even the big kids have a new school desk area. This helps them differentiate too. When your dining table is somewhere to eat, work, play and the rest, it can feel overwhelming and difficult to differentiate when you’re meant to be working, eating or colouring with the kids. Neither of us claim to be super tidy, but both agree having a tidy area dedicated for work, helps clear the mind and make the short time you have super efficient!
4. Have a daily list of activities pre-thought (even just in your head) for the kids
We both have 2 kids, both with different needs, that the majority of the time won't keep occupied by the same activity, so we’ve found having a list of activities (some of which they can do together and some they can do individually) means we haven't had to constantly think up of things to do on the spot, and before they get bored. It also means, when we ‘handover’ with the dads, they know what’s been done already. This also helps, to ensure we’re not using up all their more independent and ‘fun’ activities for when the little ones are sleeping so we all get some downtime. The activities don’t have to be purely academic, either, there are so many opportunities to teach them important life skills such as cleaning their room, making their bed, helping with cooking, setting the table and the all-important 'tidy up' time. This has most definitely helped curb the inevitable boredom from being stuck in the house and the kids have been enjoying (so far).
5. Have some things to look forward to at the end of the week and to differentiate between week/weekends.
Just because we are indoors doesn't mean we can't look forward to facetime/zoom calls with friends and family. Book in a 'quiz night' or enjoy your alone time. My husband suggested we have a date night on Friday 🙌 He's going to cook, we'll open a bottle of (the nice) wine and even get dressed up for the occasion! Having something to look forward to at the end of the week is your reward for the hard work you've both put in, enjoy it. It could be an uninterrupted bath, a take-out, a movie or some time for self-care - just something that is for you. Because let's be fair... YOU DESERVE IT!!!
6. Make time for Mindful Moments
This is one of our most important tips. Make time for mindful moments with the kids, with each other and for yourself. Whether it's a run/walk/some fresh air or having lunch or dinner as a family and talking about your day, what you have done or are going to do. For Christmas last year both older kids received an incredible 'Gratitude Journal' which we think is important to do with the kids now more than ever. Sometimes they write in it and sometimes they dictate while we write in it for them. It's a great way to teach them that whilst things aren't quite normal at the moment, there is still so much to be grateful for.
Whilst we navigate this together, we'd love to hear your tips on how you're managing your 'new norm'.