It’s Friday. ONLY Friday. This week, the entire country started their new adventure of self-containing at home… with their family. This week, hundreds of thousands of working parents found themselves in situations where they had work to accomplish, but also had children to engage, teach, and feed. I’m not a nube to homeschooling. In fact, last year our assigned school district couldn’t accommodate my family, so I chose to homeschool my three kids while launching our new company.
One would think that I’d be fully prepared for what life was about to become. I wasn’t. I never thought that I’d find myself scrambling to find materials and activities for my children to do while I attempted to get work done and attend virtual meetings. But here we are, on Friday, almost through the first week and somehow I’ve made it.
I won’t pretend that it will be easy for the rest of the way (or pretend that the week was a breeze). But with my company and teammate’s help, we’re banding together to accomplish the most important tasks for the week while putting other things on the back burner until the outbreak chaos dies down.
As a company that is 100% remote, we aren’t shutting down. We aren’t taking a break. We’re about to ramp up and work even harder because with people at home we’ve got even more students to teach. But I wanted to give a message of hope (and as I write this, I have a 5-year-old attempting to build a Frozen II Lego set and won’t stop singing) that with remote work being put to the test by as many companies as possible, now is the time to show that remote work is viable.
So, how do we do it?
We’re military spouses, and we’re great and coming up with plans. In fact, most of us come up with Plan A. Plans for when the military changes your orders, and plans for how to do a DITY. Plans for when… well, you get the point. Make a plan for your family. Be realistic about what you can accomplish when it comes to housework, your career, educating your kids, and when you’re going to have some time to yourself. Give yourself a week to see if your plan works or is even doable. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work. We’re all making adjustments and it will take more than a few days to make it your new normal.
We set expectations
You probably already have expectations for your kids anyway, but now, with you having to work from home, you will need to set new expectations. Set up your office in a place where you can’t be bothered (this might be a huge challenge). Have your kids help you. Let them know you’re taking pride in this workspace and show them how to respect it. Talk to your kids. Their lives changed too! Let them know what you expect to get out of every day and how they’re supposed to act when you’re in meetings or are working and can’t stop. Will this happen overnight? Definitely not. But routine, routine, routine is how kids thrive and they’ll catch on. If there’s any time to give yourself grace, NOW is that time.
We set our routine
The work I do affords me the opportunity to work flexible hours. So, I have set up our morning for us to spend time together to eat breakfast and then do some school work. I’ve talked with my company and let them know that in the afternoons, I’ll set my kids free to get a bigger chunk of my work done while the kids are occupied with other activities. Make sure you designate working hours. But allow for flexibility. Make sure your whole family understands the schedule. Make sure that you have time for your family; previously, your kids were social all day! Now, they might need you to eat lunch with them, or spend an hour building Frozen II Legos. As soon as you can get into a routine, you’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments you need. And remember, it’s OK if your kids are having more screen time so that you can get a few more things done at work. You aren’t failing at work. You aren’t failing your kids.
Get back to work, but start in moderation. This is a stressful time. It’s going to stay stressful for some longer than others. Suggest that your team have a meeting to discuss work hours, productivity expectations, and anything else that could come up during this time. Make sure that your team and boss understand that this is going to be an adjustment for you. I’m sure they will understand. They are having to adjust too! Send out emails to your team, the people you’ve engaged with and make sure they are back to work before scheduling meetings. Check to see that your co-workers have the same working hours as before or some overlapping hours as you. And above all, check-in on one another. We’re not doing this alone. Soon, things will fall in place and you’ll have a better understanding of how to manage your workflow in the hours you’re required to work.
Focus on your mental health
It’s easy in this situation to hyper focused on other peoples’ needs. But you need to make sure that you’re setting aside time to decompress: where you’re not doing work, where you’re not taking care of kids, and you’re not feeling the pressures and weight of this pandemic. If you can find time to meditate, read, exercise, or even just veg out, you’ll find that these activities will regenerate your wellbeing and you’ll be more productive in your personal and professional life. If you are really social, maybe set up a time to FaceTime with your friends. If you miss your co-workers, plan a meeting where you just hang out around a virtual “watercooler”. All of these things are essential to making it through the day.
The thing to understand is that working remotely was previously considered a luxury. Now, it’s become a worldwide necessity. We all are making changes, we are all sorting out the logistics, we are all trying to figure out how to maintain normalcy. Take it slow. Be realistic. And understand that this will take time. And when in doubt, get out the Legos and escape for a little bit. It’s going to be Okay.
Want to launch your remote career? Contact MilSpo Academy to find your fit.