Managing kids while working from home

Image: 123RF/ Andriy Popov.

With many children still at home due to the national Coronavirus lockdown, working women have a lot more to keep their home running smoothly.

“Balancing work with the other roles a woman plays in the home is especially challenging when children are not at school. “This can be managed by putting boundaries in place and through blocking time,” says Professor Renata Schoeman, a psychiatrist in private practice and Head: MBA in Healthcare Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

She explains that time blocking is planning your day by allocating specific blocks of time for certain tasks.

“If you work from home, for instance, you could say that from 9am to 11am you will answer emails and from 11am to 1pm, you will spend time with your children. Expecting to be able to work an eight-hour continuous day is unrealistic.

“You might decide to put in two hours of work before your children wake up and to do another hour when they are in bed, which will leave you blocks of time to spend with your family without having to feel guilty,” says Schoeman. 

Many women experience feelings of guilt as they think that they are not committing fully to either their work or their family. 

“We all need a mind shift away from the number of hours spent at work as a goal to measure productivity. Instead, this should be measured by what we achieve.

“The same applies when it comes to spending time with your children. Rather than saying you will spend two hours with them, say you will make cupcakes or play a game with them. In other words, set a visible goal rather than a time-related one,” says Schoeman.

It’s also important to set boundaries. “It’s difficult to indicate what is work time and what is time for family, especially for women with children at home. You need to find a way to make children understand that while mommy is home, she is not available,” says Schoeman.

She advises women to use their time wisely, especially if they are having to do household chores while working. 

It’s also important to maintain a routine and be professional. “Get up, shower and get dressed. If you stay in your pyjamas, you will be sending out a message that you are relaxing,” she says.

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.

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