What’s happening in our community and world is surreal and, if you’re like me, you wake up every day hoping it’s all a dream. The reality is, it’s not! Putting my head in the sand is, quite simply, not an option though, especially as a leader of a nonprofit, a wife and mom of three children ages 14, 11 and 8.
As a working mom, I already know how much we have to juggle in times of normalcy. With the complexity of COVID-19, we now get to juggle getting our job done successfully (while not meeting with anyone!), buying groceries (when there’s none to be found in the store) and entertaining our kiddos while they’re out of school (when everything’s closed!)…all without losing our minds.
Yikes, friends. Let’s all take a deep breath and first of all, acknowledge the anxiety we may be feeling. Then, it’s so important to remain calm, especially for our children and the people we lead or work alongside each day. True character is revealed in times of difficulty and as moms and leaders, we have an opportunity to demonstrate and communicate peace and positivity.
It’s likely your work schedule is, or will be, changing for the next few weeks. If that’s you, here are four immediate steps to take to structure your days and ensure your children are supported.
- Create a dedicated workspace. If you don’t have an office or study in your home, you can still create one, though ideally not on your couch (too much temptation to binge watch your new favorite Netflix series!) Find an area with natural light, quiet and away from household distractions where you won’t easily be interrupted.
- Set office hours. Even though you’re working from home with kiddos running around in the background, it’s imperative you communicate to yourself, your boss, co-workers and family when you will be working. Working moms are the most efficient human beings on the planet and can accomplish more in an hour than most in a day. Leverage that skill, even if it means getting up an hour or two earlier than your children to get a substantial amount of work done. Then, dedicate time with your kids to get them settled into their schedule for the day before taking calls, attending virtual meetings or knocking more items off your work to-do list.
- Establish a routine and set realistic expectations for yourself and your children. Sit down with your children and explain that their routines are going to change for a while and that you will still need to work. We all thrive with structure and your children are no different. Create a schedule together like this one and post it on the wall or refrigerator so everyone is clear about what’s expected of them. Engage your older children to “help” provide activities or schoolwork to the younger siblings. Build in opportunities for you to have fun with them as well! Even adults need recess time. Lean on your fellow working moms to come up with activities, books and other ideas for your children to be entertained while you work. Aim for quiet moments to read and be sure to limit their screen and TV time.
- Remind yourself daily (or hourly!) that this is temporary. You will get through this. Your family will get through this, especially if you seek to find the good. Keep a gratitude journal for yourself or with your family to engage dialogue about all the wonderful memories you’re making together (even if that entails running out of toilet paper!) You can do this, mama!
Erin Engelke is the executive director of Calm Waters, Central Oklahoma’s only grief center. She is also a mom, wife, community leader, public speaker and executive coach with Strata Leadership. To follow more of Erin’s inspiring words of encouragement for working moms and leaders, subscribe to her blog at www.beautyinthebusyness.com or on Facebook or Instagram.