As freelancers, we’re used to working remotely. So, unless we occasionally based ourselves in a client’s office, a co-working space or a coffee shop pre-COVID-19, not much has really changed in that respect. But what a lot of us aren’t used to doing is working while looking after kids.
Running a business, home schooling and keeping little humans alive is a tough, more-than-full-time gig. Not only is it difficult to find the time to work, it’s almost impossible to concentrate when you do find those golden nine minutes a day. So how do we make the most of the time we do have and keep our sanity intact?
Working 9 to…9.09
Preparation is key. Keep a to-do list of things you can get done in a few minutes, so that when a small window appears, you’re not faffing around on Instagram wondering what to do. Break down big jobs into tiny tasks that you can gradually plug away at. As a copywriter, I always keep my laptop nearby or use a dictation app to plan blog posts. It’s small progress, but still progress.
It also helps to automate tasks where possible. Many accounting programs can automatically send invoice reminders; there are apps to schedule social media posts; and project management tools that trigger tasks that you repeat often.
It also pays to be honest with your clients. Many of them are in the same situation: trying to work while looking after kids. Keep communicating with them. Get help if you need it. If you absolutely have to get something done and you’re struggling, consider outsourcing to a virtual assistant, social media manager, copywriter; whatever you need. If you’ve no budget, see if friends or family can pitch in.
How I approached maternity leave as a solo founder
Read the article from Lucy Werner
The school of Mum and Dad
Let’s get one thing straight: you’re not a teacher. (Unless you actually are a teacher, in which case this should be a bit easier.) You don’t have the same experience or resources, so you’ll never provide an environment equal to the classroom. No one’s expecting that.
You don’t need a rigid timetable. A routine might be helpful, but that routine could be as simple as a school activity in the morning and play outside after lunch. There are ways you can include learning in everyday activities too: read together, involve your children in household chores and help them to stay active.
Relax your rules on screen time and consider leaving your kids in the capable hands of Uncle Netflix every now and then. There have been loads of lockdown timetables doing the rounds so children can continue learning, but there doesn’t need to be an educational element to everything.
Accept what you cannot change
I’ve spoken to people who feel like they’re failing as both a parent and a worker. You’re not; you’re doing your best in an impossible situation. The light might be at the end of a long, murky tunnel but it’s still flickering.
We’re all teetering on the edge of burnout so it’s time for that annoying phrase of the zeitgeist: ‘self-care’. We need to look after ourselves to be able to function in our roles as caregivers and workers. It might not involve a candlelit bath, but instead going for a walk, reading a book or saying ‘no’ without the guilt.
If all else fails, get a good night’s sleep and you might feel better prepared to tackle everything in the morning. Look at the bigger picture. Your kids will probably look back on 2020 as an adventure when they got to skip school and spend weeks hanging out with you – the best thing ever.
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