Written by Alice Zsembery
As parents, we are constantly juggling the various demands that having kids brings and, when you throw in a career that you are desperately trying to hold onto, another juggling layer is involved…
In an ideal world, you would clock on and off your hours, and that would be that. But in the digital age of global connectedness and increasing expectations for instant availability, gosh it is hard.
Whilst boundary setting with your employer/Clients and customers is important, the reality for most is that there are instances where you just need to be available, kids or not.
Here are some top tips that I have learnt (after several epic fails of Client teleconferences with kids) that increase my chances of a ‘juggling success’:
- Define the Space
Create a ‘working space’ that comes with clear rules of behaviour and use. By emphasizing this to your kids, they are more like to respect the space.
- Carefully Structure the day
Set yourself up for success. For most kids, they need to burn off energy in the morning and experience quality time with their parent. I have found that by making the mornings in the park about them, they are generally happier to play independently (and quietly) in the afternoon whilst I am on a call. So, wherever I can, I structure my day in this manner.
- Outline Expectations
Sit down with your kids and outline what you need to do, where you will do it, how long it will take and what behaviour you expect from them. Ensure they are clear that they aren’t being punished but, rather, that Mummy (or Daddy) has something that she needs to do and the quicker it is done, the quicker we can (insert fun activity/bribe here).
- Set a Clock
This helps reiterate the time expectations that you have provided.
- Involve the kids in planning
Brainstorm with them the type of activities that they could do whilst you are occupied. Of course, these need to be relatively quiet and require little direction from parents. Feel free to check out these ideas here.
- Hidden Treasures
Have some special toys or items that only come out in these moments of desperation!
Role play typical scenarios, so kids understand the boundaries. For example, what happens if they want to speak to you or if they want food? The response may be different depending on whether you are on a call or simply at your desk, but, in my experience, it is unlikely that my preschooler will know that yelling at me whilst I am on the phone with a Client is unacceptable unless I have discussed alternative methods of communication with him.
Be sure to reinforce their good behaviour because, unfortunately, there is usually the next time in this juggle!
Whilst it is not foolproof, I hope that the above steps dramatically improve this work/life juggle!
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