Last Week WFH Employee this week Homeschool Parent
How Covid-19 keeps changing us.
By Betsy Leatherman
Just last week you became an official WFH employee. You woke up on day one and found out that when everyone is working from home, you get ten times the normal amount of emails than when people are in the office (who knew you’d miss meetings for the sake of meetings).
Your Microsoft My Analytics report suggested that maybe you are responding to those you collaborate with a little too fast, and it was all you could do to keep from spitting out your coffee when you read it. You’re thinking, “Yeah right slow down. As if there is a choice in here for me.”
By Friday, things start to return to a normal level. You got your feet underneath you. During the President’s press conference, you even noticed a bit of a lull. Perhaps you began thinking, “You know I can do this!” They all say you get more done when you WFH. And then, it happened. That show-stopping, game-changing, fear-invoking gut punch when you find out that, not only are you a WFH employee, but you are now also a Homeschool Parent. Next week at this time, little Gavin and Isabella will both be your office mates and your dog, Ripley, your new boss.
I have worked from home for seven years. Our company’s points of operation are either at our client locations or in one of our seven global centers (none of which are Minneapolis). I am very fortunate our owners have created a way for me to work from home. With the use of Zoom, Slack, email, texts, phone calls, and loads of travel, I have figured out a successful equation. That equation, however, totally changes the first week of summer. That fateful day when my boys (and seemingly every other boy in our neighborhood) descend upon my office (aka our home) to play baseball, eat food, ask to be driven somewhere, and be loud. That first week of summer requires a bit of recalibration, just like these first few days of Homeschooling will as well.
From years of experience, here are some tips for recalibrating your new normal as a Homeschool Parent who also has a Full-Time Job and just recently began WFH:
1. Breathe. Let’s start there because all of this is making life feel a little unsettled.
2. Have a routine. It can be really lonely (for you and your little ones). The more structure you can provide (and grace to yourself when you cannot), the easier life becomes. Review online homework and assignments the night before so you can start your day with a plan.
3. Take a walk. If you are able, start the day outside to get some fresh air. Try to get on the same page for the day if you have older kids. Ripley will thank you.
4. Give guidelines and set expectations for your kids as much as possible. For TV or electronics time, tell them how long they’re going to be allowed to do so before they have to switch to a different activity. I would recommend a timer for this, so you aren’t nagging them to be done. If you are at a spot in your workday where you need more time, feel no shame in resetting the timer a bit longer.
If you’re able, work early in the morning or later at night, so you have more free time during the day to help with activities, homework, referee fighting siblings, and make lunches.
6. Protect your mental health. Take time during the day for yourself — even if it’s five minutes in a room to clear your head or meditate or cry in your bedroom closet. Use the airline’s approach: “In the event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.” You will not be useful to anyone if you don’t.
7. Phone a friend. We are all in new, unchartered territory. We need to connect (albeit virtually) now more than ever. If you have elderly or immunocompromised family members, have you kids take time daily to FaceTime or call them to check-in. They need it now more than ever. It will also help remind them we are all in this together.
Finally, have perspective. I have healthy kids and a spouse who are home with me when more than 155,000 people (and rising) around the world are sick with a deadly virus. There are days we will act in a manner unbecoming and in direct contradiction of who we are as parents and individuals. It is time to be forgiving – of ourselves, our kids, and our coworkers. This is not an easy time, but we will get through it. And, when the time comes that we are safely able, hug your kid’s teachers and thank them profusely for their service.
Check out these great resources for kids:
Kahnacademy.com-Practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP, SAT, and more. It’s all free for learners and teachers.
Scholastic.com-Books, magazines, and more
Udemey.com-100,000 online courses
For the past 7 years, Betsy Leatherman has dedicated her life to helping leaders thrive. Anyone that knows her would tell you she does this with deep passion and conviction for living in the Creative Competencies. Currently, she serves as the President and Chief Marketing Officer of The Leadership Circle and Full Circle Group. She is responsible for relationships with our largest customers and practitioners. Through a lot of video calls and significant international travel, she serves global clients and teams from her home office in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As of March 16th, Betsy’s office mates are Riley (14), Kieran (12), and her boss is Scout Leatherman, her 6-year-old King Charles Cavalier.