Motherhood never takes a day off — especially during a global pandemic.
At Manifest Boston, we're fortunate to have two wonderful moms on our tiny team of eight who not only spend their days at home developing amazing partnerships and making critical connections for our organization, but also taking care of their families (with all the cooking, cleaning, educating, and entertaining that involves). In celebration of Mother's Day, we're highlighting tips and tricks from these hardworking women for balancing parenting while working from home. We hope they will inspire others sharing a similar experience.
First, a few ideas from our Director of Business Development, Anna Raborn:
- "Get outside. Set aside some time each day to get away from screens and go for a walk. Observe urban nature and connect as a family. This also gets the kids' energy out so you can get through your next meeting.
- Spend at least 10 minutes of quality time with each kid, doing what they want to do. A little attention goes a long way in terms of behavior in our family. If my kids feel like I'm listening to them, learning something about them, and seeing them as they are, they tend to be less competitive for attention throughout the day. This practice has helped us find a lot of harmony in our home.
- Encourage independence. We've tried to set up our home so anything our four-year-old needs is within his reach. This has helped tremendously, as he's learning to be helpful during school or snack time. (Plus, it limits my juggling of snacks while chatting with coworkers on Zoom.
- Have grace with yourself, your partner, your kiddos. This is tough for EVERYONE. If you are like me, you've had days where your kids watch 8 hours of TV, and days where you've done it all (you've homeschooled, cooked dinner, worked with integrity, and started the laundry). Each day is different, so give yourself time, space, and love. We will all get through this."
"I've been finding some balance by sticking to a few principles.
- Remind yourself you are a good employee. Remind yourself you are a good mom. Every decision I make about how to spend my (now wildly limited) time has to start there. Let's agree we're doing well and then make choices to continue to do so. Make decisions from a place of self love — the rest will fall into place.
- Prioritize deep work. If I'm going to sit down at my desk and get that valuable time sans kids, I need that work to reflect the high value of my time. There are things I can do fine while multi-tasking (making dinner while listening in on a conference call; helping the kids with school work while scheduling meetings) and others that needs my full attention (I like to use it for projects and problem solving with peers). Make sure the value of the time you're using reflects how you're spending it.
2 a. Unless it's sunny outside. If you're free of a deadline and the sun came out at that right moment, GRAB THAT SUNSHINE! Get out with your kid(s) because that vitamin D and fresh air will make them happier but also make you a more focused worker (Have you tried to sit at your laptop while you look out the window and see children running happily lapping up sun rays? It's pathetic and sad.) Sunshine makes us better parents and employees — 2 birds, 1 stone.
- Share your schedule with your team. (And try to honor time you've promised.) The reality is you're probably not going to have a normal 9-5 schedule these days. It should not be on your colleague to figure out when and how they can get a hold of you. These days are a crapshoot (Literally. My daughter is potty training and some days there is literal crap on the floor and I have to pause my video on a meeting to go clean that up) but we can probably determine a loose timeline of availability. It's been helpful to make it wildly clear (using my shared calendar) when I'm available and how. (On the same note, I make sure that my working hours reflect SOME of the "normal" hours. No one else should have to take on this nutty schedule. Moms are superheroes; we can handle it.)
- Exercise! I know. Every list has this. It sounds impossible. Let me tell you a secret: Sometimes I drag my kids (who hate it) on a run with me — and it's not particularly fun. Sometimes (shhhhh, supervisor, please look the other way here) I listen to a webinar while lifting weights. Sometimes I feed my children frozen pizza so I can workout instead of spending that time cooking a meal. It's a million percent worth it. Exercise is good for your body and your mind and the future health of your children."