Posted on August 16, 2020

Work Life Integration – Trying to make it work during a pandemic

I have  been working remotely for the better part of 5 years now and until recently I thought I had work-life integration down to a science. I did it all...scheduling meetings and calls neatly around drop offs and pick-ups, responding to emails and urgent requests from the school parking lot to planning during soccer practices and swimming lessons. The work life integration mix was working for me….until about early March.  

In recent months since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, a few new “ingredients” have been thrown into my mix, as I’m sure is the case for many others out there. Although remote work has been my norm for a while, I realized that working from home with the family was going to present a totally new set of challenges my way, especially with a 6 year old and a 9 year old at home. Add to this mix, a teacher for a spouse who has to work with students on a strict schedule remotely during most of the day. How would we divide and conquer under this new normal? 

While it’s been an interesting journey to say the least, I think we’ve managed to find a new mix that works for all of us. Below are a few tips that have worked for our household that I’d like to share:

Maintaining a routine:

Humans are creatures of habit and as a wise teacher once advised me - kids are especially sensitive to changes in their routine. Maintaining a routine and a sense of normalcy with the family schedule is key. Scheduling items such as wake up time, breakfast, work time, lunch and play time has helped us maintain a sense of calm around the household.     

Weekly planning is key: 

Given the kids are receiving a minimal amount of work from school, planning weekly work packages for the kids has helped to keep them occupied throughout the day. These packages are generally worksheets and exercises to keep the kids sharp with their spelling, reading and math. 

Set Time Blocks where possible:

One of the things that has worked exceptionally well for us is setting time blocks for both kids to complete their work during the day. This has helped keep the kids focused and engaged for short bursts of time, giving us blocks of time to get through meetings, calls or chunks of work with limited interruption. 

Try to create a work hard, play hard environment:

Celebrate small successes and reward hard work with play and fun time. If there's one thing that kids prefer, it's play over work. Rewarding kids with playtime in between work time has been a great carrot for keeping our kids focused on their work during the day. Breaking up their work day with indoor/outdoor play breaks and fun games has helped make our days go by quicker with minimized meltdowns - from all of us.   

Although we are all working at a reduced capacity and the current situation is not the greatest for a young child's education, the situation is not one that we can change. We may as well take advantage of the increased time we have together. Our kids are only young once and we will all remember this time for the rest of their lives. So try to take a step back, get some perspective on the importance of work vs. life and take advantage of the time that you have with each other. After all, we have the rest of our post pandemic lives to continue with work.