It's tomorrow! Woohoo!......? I wonder how many of us are feeling that way...
By now, you should be set up to work from home. And today is the LAST DAY you have before your kids are yours 24/7 for 4 weeks. Before you panic, here's some context:
- the school holidays are longer than that (but childcare still runs then, and there are enrichment classes and holiday camps to enrol our children in...),
- it's technically only 17 school days because of 2 public holidays during this period (but what if it gets extended?)
If what's in the brackets above articulate your underlying objections to all that optimism, let me just dish out some potentially lifesaving quick tips for working parents in Singapore:
- How to ace working from home with the kids around
- How to keep the kids meaningfully occupied and spend quality family time
- How to talk to your kids and your family through COVID-19
What we focus on will become our focus
One key for successfully nailing our work-life the next 4 weeks is to set some goals, the same way you would if on a project. Time would also pass faster, so much so that you might just find yourself missing the times when you had your work and your family with you 24/7!
I set some personal goals for myself once I made my turning point (about 4 weeks post-fall - yes, it took me a while to wise up to that Choice), which included catching up on my reading, working on my new year resolutions, being super diligent on my physio exercises, and most importantly, setting limits for myself to make rest a healthy lifestyle habit.
As a family, we sat down in a "family meeting" to discuss how each was doing and what we wanted to contribute towards the fight against COVID-19.
Here are 3 types of goals you should consider for holistic work-life excellence at home:
1. Work Goals
Your job may have been rescoped, but chances are, with the quick transitions, specific deliverables may not have been discussed. Take some time upfront to identify for yourself what would be reasonable to accomplish in the next 30 days, during the COVID-19 period with the world turned upside down, and for the rest of your organisation's financial year. This can include learning milestones as well as helping with organisational housekeeping (those work tasks that sit there waiting for when we "have some time"). Even if you worry that your job may be at stake, being a proactive employee helps your employer to remember to look into your needs in these challenging circumstances for everybody.
Your child would also have some tasks to accomplish as part of their home-based learning. Younger children would need some help to get organised with visual reminders of daily goals, while older children (as with even adults) would need some ongoing feedback system for accountability.
If you've been filling your child's or family's schedule with enrichment classes and extra-curricular activities that are now all cancelled, you might want to identify some additional learning goals (e.g. typing skills, coding knowledge) for each child to accomplish. Many of these are available online and now for free - explore and select them with your children, according to the values and approach of your family. To ease the kids into their new routine and get everyone on the same page, Singapore parents might want to hold off on the piles of assessment books and mock test papers for the first few days and incorporate some non-academic and fun learning.
2. Family Goals
The whole idea of work-life excellence is to be able to achieve both work and non-work pursuits in a complementary - and even synergistic - way. Thus, other than work goals, it's important to set up some family goals.
We can get so consumed with social distancing that we might inadvertently be going into social isolation mode at home. Being confined with the same few family members for days on end can cause great strain to relationships and threaten to break the family down, so take a proactive stance to set aside family time and intentionally build relationships with one another. For our family, we've decided that we would take an hour after lunchtime each day to do something together as a family, whether it's playing a game, chatting or watching the same programme together on TV.
To make that happen, this means that we have to ensure discipline with everyone going digital even more, so we agreed to keep one another accountable. The last thing we want is to come out of this period becoming gaming addicts or social media zombies, or getting into stuff we shouldn't (like porn) while on the internet! Over-reliance on digital connections isn't a concern only for our children, but for us adults as well. Zoom meetings may appear to provide a great alternative to feed our need to connect socially, but it could end up to the contrary because video-conferencing tools were intended for close work collaborations online and not for casual social interactions. So let's work on Zoom but zoom in instead to work on really connecting with our own family, beginning with our spouse!
3. Personal Goals
One key personal goal in the current situation of great uncertainty, anxiety and change should be to stay healthy - physically, and just as importantly, mentally and emotionally. My husband and I found ourselves becoming more on-edge and critical from constantly reading and commenting on the news feeds about COVID-19. To maintain a positive outlook and home atmosphere, we've had to make a conscious decision to limit how much time we spend on COVID-19 updates and also to make sure we feed our mind with some inspirational content and lighter funnies (one provided here for your entertainment).
I have to address here the ones who, like me, may be inclined to go overboard with goal-setting. If one of your target accomplishments is to run a tight ship at home, you might have to balance that up with a personal goal of maintaining sanity - for yourself and everyone else sharing your home. With greater usage of home facilities now that everyone is housebound, you will find that there is more cleaning to be done or more tidying to chase the family members to do. We have to weigh here what's really essential - some days, for the sake of the longer-term sustainability of everyone's overall health, it may be better to learn to live with some specks on the floor, so long as everyone is doing well emotionally and the home atmosphere is positive.
Helping others can offer a good way to cope with the situation. You might want to include in your personal (and family) goals how you can be a part of the many ground-up as well as official projectsto fight against COVID-19.
As we go into somewhat of a standstill mode, I will quote one of my staff here.
These next 4 weeks will present a challenge we've never had, to reinvent our work-life. May I challenge all working parents to "stay home, don't stray". Stay the course, focus on those goals. We can do it!
This was first published on Joanna's LinkedIn page.
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