The challenging situation we are in is forcing many of us to adopt new ways of working. For those of us confined at home with children, the challenges can be bigger than most.
Personally, I like to grab a couple of hours of ‘me time’ before my children (aged 10 and 13) surface, giving me the chance to centre myself, go through emails and plan the rest of my day. I also make sure that I build in enough time between meetings to engage with the kids and check they’re getting what they need.
While early starts and evening catch-ups have turned out to be a big part of the solution for me, it’s taken some trial and error to find the right approach.
Other people will come to different conclusions about what’s realistic for them in their own circumstances. Your children may be much younger, for instance, or you may or may not have a partner at home to share the responsibility.
Honesty is the best policy
Whatever the case, the most important thing from a work perspective is to engage with your manager and be completely honest about your situation.
Here at NTT DATA, we’ve been supporting people with a package of flexible working options to help them navigate the unprecedented challenge of being at home with their ‘mini-colleagues’.
If you’re working around nap times, perhaps regular, staggered hours are a possibility – offering unusual start, finish and break times that enable you to work around your toddlers’ timetable?
Or maybe flexitime is a better approach, with variable hours changing each day around a fixed core when people can be confident they’ll be able to reach you?
With the best will in the world, it may be that no amount of flexibility will allow you to remain productive on a full-time basis while the children are around. Shifting to part time working for the duration of the lockdown – either on reduced hours per day or reduced days per week – might be a more realistic solution.
And if even reduced hours seem like an insurmountable challenge, taking some leave might be a better option. Annual leave, parental leave or dependant leave might all be up for discussion within your organisation.
Be kind to yourself
Whatever the right solution is for you, it’s important to cut yourself some slack at this difficult time. Many parents fear that their frantic juggling leaves them in the worst of all possible worlds, with their children missing out and their productivity slipping at work.
It’s natural to feel guilty, but we’re all doing our best to adapt to the new reality. So be gentle with yourself. I’m not ashamed to admit that my usual limits on screen time for the kids have been relaxed – not that they’re complaining!
Finally, don’t forget to take some proper time off. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should always be working. Easter is coming up and will provide an ideal opportunity to take a break from juggling work to focus fully on enjoying your family for a few days.