The coronavirus has changed the way we live our lives. It has changed our daily schedules, where and how we work, and has changed the face of education for our children. For parents working from home for the very first time while their children in school are also working from home, the landscape of living and working together has been altered. What does this mean for parents and their children and how can they be the most successful in these times of change?
So much has changed within the last few weeks since our last blog post about how small businesses and corporations need to operate during this time of crisis. It continues to change the work world so much, that we wanted to follow that blog up by discussing just how much COVID-19 is changing and affecting the lives of everyone in the working world down to the youngest of your family. One of the biggest reliefs and changes during this time is the 90-day deferment on taxes for everyone, allowing both individuals and corporations to pay and file their taxes on July 15th instead of April 15th. But, with that relief, comes a bit of a struggle. Many of us are working from home for the very first time and with children our children that are school-aged or younger. Going from the office to our home offices, kitchen tables, or couches has been a huge shift, especially if you're working alongside your son or daughter as they are virtually taking classes and sending in assignments in brand new ways themselves. Thankfully, you don't have to worry about your small business or corporation meeting tax deadlines for a few more months while you're getting adjusted. The biggest adjustment is working from home, being productive, and trying not to drive one another crazy!
As COVID-19 changes the guidelines on how to work, we wanted to break it down to the individuals affected by these huge changes and to share some tips and suggestions on how to successfully make this transition productive both to your company and to your well being. Without the latter, your work and productivity could suffer. So, let's get to work!
Every family, personal work space, and your job at hand is unique and different. Through this unknown time, you'll have to find what works best for you. These suggestions might be the perfect solution to your learning curve, or they might be the complete opposite. Take these as stepping stones, and continue to see what works for you and your family. In the end, whatever works for your family is the right way. There is no right or wrong way, there will just need to be a lot of trial and error until you reach a comfortable level of living. Hopefully, by then, life will be back to normal, or as close to it as possible!
One of the most consistent things we have seen to be successful for working parents and their children is to stay on schedule. The key is to create a schedule for this new way of living and to stick to it. This applies to both parent and child. All of this will depend on how old your child is and what their needs are, but living as consistently to your life before moving home is very important. Begin by waking up at the same time, get ready and dressed for the day, and eat breakfast at the same time. The temptation to sleep in, stay in the same PJs for days and eat whatever whenever is going to be a huge temptation. Don't fall into that trap! We aren't saying you need to get dressed to the nines or dress your children for picture day. The key is to change out of your PJs every morning and into another outfit that makes both you and your kids feel productive and normal as possible. Then, we recommend creating a schedule for your students for the whole day, not just during school hours. This will help them stay adjusted to their normal school day, stay on top of their expectations of getting homework done and studying completed, and allocate their free time. This way their grades don't drop while they are spending all of their time watching TV, playing video games, or on their phones. Keep them on a schedule that will create your workday too, one that allows you to stay close to your schedule too. For our parents with young children, keep them on a schedule as much as possible and one that is as close to what they have been living with. Take advantage of nap time, quiet playtime, and lunchtime as your work hours. You might need to get a little creative, and that's ok!
It will be very important to sit your family down and talk about what's happening in the world and what these changes mean for everyone. The situation will change expectations, free time, and it will also mean spending all of your time together during work and play hours. You will also need to communicate with your boss, employees, and colleagues that they might need to be more flexible because of your new work situation with your children. Express that your children could walk into a work call or video meeting at any time, and you might need to get up and leave to answer an emergency or a baby crying at any time. If anything, mention this often so it is never a surprise and not something that is forgotten by anyone. This is also the time to set boundaries with your kids. This might mean allowing them more TV, video game, and screen time to give you more space and time to get work done. If that is the case, explain to them that this extra free time is a treat and that everything will return to normal once work and school go back to their normal schedule. Set boundaries, especially for your school-aged children, and let them know when they can come into your work space, and when they can only come in when it is an absolute emergency.
During this crazy time, create a system that allows you to work and allows you to still be a family. Take breaks together from work and school to exercise together, take a car ride, or walk the dog together while still practicing social distancing. When work and school are over for the day, make sure they are over for the day. Separate work from play with the whole family, unless you have to finish a job or a project. Keeping regular dinner hours, family game or movie nights, and beyond are very important. Spending time together as a family is very needed. But, allotting yourself adult time is very important as well. It is also important to parent as a team and juggle these new schedule changes and learning curves together. Share the normal household tasks like you never have before. Switch places creating the daily schedule, serving as a teacher for the day, and even switch giving your partner the night off. Allow your partner to not have to worry about household chores or the necessary grocery trip if they're slammed with work, and let them repay the favor to you when you're swamped with work. You can even switch shifts throughout the day, whatever works for you!
This is an unknown time full of uncharted territory. Maintaining a sense of balance, normality, and regularity is the key to staying productive as a business owner and the head of a successful family. It may seem impossible at first, but keep working. You will figure out what works best for you. Remember to stay smart, keep following the WHO guidelines, and to wash your hands!
The Pathways Team