In light of the PM’s announcement this week, we wanted to share some of our tried and tested tips for those parents juggling work, childcare and home-schooling over these coming weeks (or even months).
As working parents ourselves, we are all too familiar with the work Vs parenting tussle and the effect this can have on our mental and physical health. We’ve by no means got all the answers, but we can vouch for the advice and suggestions our coach shares in our Wellbeing for Working Parents during Covid webinar.
Below we’ve shared 3 pieces of advice that have worked for us. Feel free to forward on to your working parent colleagues, in the hope they may work for them too.
Typically if you feel resentful – at your boss, your children, your partner – this is often because you haven’t put boundaries in place. Time boundaries can include a strict schedule of working hours, childcare, important meetings and meal times. Whilst physical boundaries would be creating specific zones for work / play/ school and eating (even if these involve different corners of the kitchen table).
We’re advocates of the red & green light system: A sign that’s green on one side, red on the other. Put on your door if you are lucky enough to have one or on the back of your laptop. Green means “I am working but you can disturb me” – You might be doing emails, catching on admin – they can come and get you for a snack etc. Red = “I am not to be disturbed unless the house is on fire!” This can be really useful to children and is really easy to understand. Think about how confusing it is for their little minds – suddenly Mum and Dad are home but they are not available.
Feel the feelings: We’re all finding this hard, because it is hard.
This Ted Talk by Dr Jill Bolty Taylor, a neuroscientist who had a stroke explains how feelings only last in the body for 90 seconds. What tends to keep them going is when we try and stop them or when we allow our head to start thinking about that feeling. Next time your child is having a meltdown, or your teenager having a sullen spell, refrain from rushing to fix their feelings, either by distracting them or telling them to snap out of it.
Next time your child has a big feeling just try sitting with them and validate that feeling – what you will see is that when you validate the feeling it will pass quicker. The same goes for us adults too. ‘It feels hard, because it is hard’ has been our mantra, muttered under our breath many a time during the pandemic. Validate the feeling, sit with it and then see it float away.
Practice Micro Self Care
A seminal study by Dr Kristen Neff showed that when we are kinder to ourselves we are actually more productive. We appreciate an hour long yoga class or even 15 minutes of meditation may not be something you can squeeze in to your day right now, but even just 60 seconds of meditation or simple breathwork a day can start to rewire your brain.
Whether it’s 60 seconds of closing your eyes and watching the breath, or a quick soak in the bath before your kids jump in, grab micro moments of self care wherever you possibly can.