There are not many end-of-days scenarios where I’d see myself leading the pack.
Come the zombie apocalypse, I like to think I’d go down swinging, but I’m pretty sure I’d be brain food five minutes into the movie.
When an asteroid threatens deep impact on the earth and the world’s best and brightest are herded five kilometres underground, my average feet will remain firmly on the surface until it’s nothing but dust.
And when the climate catastrophe reaches tipping point and humanity’s only chance for survival is to abandon the planet, my freelance writer title and killer spag bol recipe isn’t going to get me a ticket on any space shuttle out of here.
But a global pandemic where the best line of defence is to stay at home? I got this. I’m a work at home mum of two kids. My life has been training for a day like this.
So here are my top tips for surviving a lockdown while getting work done, looking after your family and staying sane in the process.
1. Set a schedule
As the days drift, the weeks melt together and you wonder what day of Aprimune it is, you’ll find structure and routine will be your saviour. Grab yourself a big whiteboard, write the day and date at the top and start scheduling. Don’t get bogged down in the detail, just block out the day’s activities against times. It’ll help you set some time limits on the kids, help them understand what’s on the cards for the day and also help you see when the best time to squeeze in some work will be (and also when you just shouldn’t even try).
2. Be flexible
Now that you have your day perfectly planned, be prepared to throw it out the window. Make it work as best you can, but don’t forget, you made the schedule. Un-make it if it isn’t working for you. There’s no point getting stressed or having a collective meltdown over a self-imposed schedule.
3. Track your time
When you’re working in five minute blocks between getting the dishwasher on, making snacks, setting up craft projects for the kids, setting up different craft projects for the kids after they destroy the first one, breaking up fights, untangling wrestling little people, making more snacks for the kids and cleaning playdough out of your hair, it’s easy to feel like you haven’t got anything done. But all those five minutes can quickly add up. Download a time tracking app on your phone and clock on and off like a factory worker. Then trust the data – it will give you a true sense of how much work you’ve actually done rather than how much work it feels like you’ve done.
4. Never interrupt happily playing children
Yes, routine is important. And yes, you’ve probably got home school and chores and lots of other important things you need your kids to do today. But honestly, happily playing children is a gift not to be wasted. In that time, your kids don’t need you – they’re happy and they’re busy. So leave them to it, dive into work and churn out as much as you can. The sand will run out pretty soon and your kids will be bickering or bored again soon enough.
5. Don’t try to home school
I’m not saying don’t educate your children, just don’t think of what you’re doing as home schooling. This is a temporary measure. This is survival. Do what you can, but don’t expect you’ll be able to replicate a classroom experience. This is crisis schooling.
6. Remember, everything is learning
Don’t feel the pressure to get bogged down in the books. There are learning opportunities for your kids everywhere. Take them into the kitchen and bake. Go for a walk and chat about what you see along the way. Get out into the garden and pot some plants. This time is about keeping your kids engaged with learning – there’ll be time to catch up on their proper schoolwork later.
7. Share the load
If you have a significant other at home with you, make sure you’re taking joint responsibility for all elements of your life – the chores, the children, the schooling, everything. It’s ok for one of you to invest more time as needed or take the lead, but overall, there needs to be fairness and you both need to be involved. And don’t forget to involve the kids as well – give them input into the schedule and involve them in the chores. You’re all part of the family and it’s everyone’s job to keep the family working and happy.