I am a tutor, lecturer, work on social media and mum to four children ranging from 4-17, all in education – or not now. Having homeschooled in the past this doesn’t worry me (see other posts) but I appreciate the challenge of working with children around. I am not an expert but here are a few tips.
- Be kind to yourself – your idea of being a superhuman and working at full capacity, achieving all your targets, getting employee of the month and having any sanity probably aren’t going to happen. That’s okay! Your personal work expectations may need to change down, they may be barely clinging on but adding your own high standards isn’t going to help anybody.
- Be realistic – where can you work? When can you work? How can you work? For now it might mean getting up an hour earlier to get some undisturbed time or working in the evening when little ones have gone to bed. Do you have a space that you can limit interruption (don’t expect to avoid them altogether)? Try to find a little place, where you can have work things, where you can put work things away and that gives you a different environment. Even a tray with a pot of pens, plant and some paper gives you a little different space!
- Back to those interruptions…. How can you work? Do you need the computer and internet at the same time as someone else is being expected to use it? This is a great space for teaching your child negotiation skills! If you are on ‘conference calls’ explain to people that you have children there – they may not understand and it may not be your ultimate professional dream life but right now it is reality.
- Prioritise – I love lists and having a clear pattern of what needs to be done and giving yourself that satisfaction of being able to tick things off is a great motivator on days where you feel like you’ve done nothing but answer a thousand questions, tidied the house, cook meals, stopped a hundred squabbles and been interrupted a billion times… is that just my house? No financial interest to me but https://crossbowprintables.com/ has the most amazing organisers, planners and even just list sheets. I make lists of lists I need to make just to tick things off!
- Wearing different hats is hard, it’s hard for you but it’s also hard for others who might not realise you are wearing a different hat. Apart from physically wearing a hat or a badge to say what role you are in at any given minute just be aware that for now it might mean leaving something ‘really’ important to be present with someone who needs you.
- Interruptions – it makes life more stressful to be swapping and changing but ultimately we are here to be care providers for our family, to show them love, to protect them, the comfort them, to help them. That interruption may just be the 20th request for juice that is sitting on the side this minute but it might really be about a little person who wants your attention because they are unsure right now. It might be a strop that is really saying “I don’t know what’s happening and it doesn’t feel right inside” or it might be another argument because I miss seeing my friends, my family, my club, my world. In ten years you probably won’t care you finished that email.
- I need to go, my own advice is pretty good, it’s much easier to read and write than to live. Lots of us are in this situation – so be generous when you don’t get an email or report back straight away, be caring when you haven’t heard from a colleague and get dressed every day!