With the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic unfolding each day, at times it feels surreal – as though I’m watching a movie unfold and I’m playing a small role in this movie – I am just unsure what that role is yet?. In this volatile economic environment, as a working parent I feel extremely lucky to still have a job, yet like other parents, we are struggling to home-school, work from home and maintain our family ethos.
“Lower your standards” “embrace imperfection”, “be kind and gentle to yourself” they tell you, sometimes it’s just hard to teach an old dog new tricks! ? So; I try and leverage on my strengths, which is being extremely organised and disciplined in order to try and maintain organised chaos. That’s right ORGANISED CHAOS! There is such a thing and let’s face it we are always in either one state or the other or trying to straddle both states of order and chaos. As I ventured into my own chaotic environment (especially after discovering i was expecting twins) my own self-discovery and learning took place which helped me create enough discipline and order in my life to allow me to stride forward and discover new things. There will always be an element of chaos to spice things up in life and get the blood boiling a little; whether it’s a global pandemic or your child splitting her head open as she slipped running out of the bath, whist the other kids scream at the sight of blood. All this unfolding just as your preparing to join a conference call. Generally, it’s how you handle it that matters most.
Given there are so many self-help articles, parenting books available, and mothering video’s, I’ll try and not bore you with yet another article telling you how to productively Work From Home, home-school, socially isolate and try and separate home and work life (which is impossible now!). However as a working mother of four littlies, I share these simple points that work for me, in hope that it will help working parents manage the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we currently live in and help you achieve greatness in what you do, whether its work related, home related or a mish-mash of both.
1. Demonstrate & build a culture of discipline – I was deeply Inspired by William McRaven, US Navy Admiral who shared reasons to make your bed every day. At work identify improvements, optimize processes and develop an effective operating rhythm. At home, to help my children feel like they accomplished one thing for the day, as soon as they wake, I encourage them to make their beds before they get dressed and have breakfast. Whilst, at first it can be challenging however over time persistence pays off. (and at least if they have a miserable day they come home to a made bed).
2. MUST have a STOP doing list. I used to have a huge “To Do” list both at work and at home, until I got so overwhelmed, decided to go on a holiday (time out alone) and wrote down what I was not going to do upon my return! This was liberating and life changing. It helped free my time, allowed me to think clearly. At home, the children contribute to family chores, that’s partly what they are there for right? (or so my parents thought).
An overnight laundry load is set and hung to dry in the morning. Clothes are sorted into each child’s respective basket and everyone is responsible for folding and placing their own clothes away. I suggest you invest time teaching your children how to fold clothes and likewise your team on the expectations and the capability to perform each task. Accept that it’s not going to be absolutely perfect to start with, encourage, motivate and over time praise the great work they have done.
3. Optimize mundane tasks – such as meal preparation. I used to enjoy cooking, nowadays I must whip meals out to feed the “Hangry” children. Whilst I’d much prefer to read a book, exercise or socialize with friends rather than cooking endless meals. My husband and I tend to leave the cooking for Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Different versions of meals (in bulk) are cooked and alternated to spice up the weekly menu (freeze where possible).
Despite WFH & home-schooling we still prepare a sandwich lunch menu and make in advance where possible – The children make three lots of sandwiches on Sunday (one of which can gets frozen) leaving only two sets of sandwiches to make for the week. Throw in a banana, an apple some crackers for morning tea. Lunches DONE!