Don't Just Survive Working at Home with Kids. Thrive.

Working from home can be an enormous toll on our physical and mental health. Here's how to stay in tip-top shape.

27 Mar, 2020

Mental Health

Tips & Tricks

Wellness

If someone told us twelve weeks ago that a harmful virus infecting the globe was going to force us to quit the gym, we’d be gob smacked.
If they then told us we’d also have to go on scavenger expeditions to multiple supermarkets just to complete the weekly shop, we’d think they were having a laugh. But if they went on to tell us about “social distancing” and as a result we would all be working from home while entertaining our kids, we just wouldn’t find that funny at all. In fact, they’d have taken the joke too far at that point!

The coronavirus has instantly changed our lives in ways we could have never imagined, which means you may have unexpectedly found yourself managing work commitments from home whilst simultaneously looking after your child/ren. This is a crazy predicament, but in these dark times where many have lost their jobs, it’s also extremely fortunate. So, here are some ideas and thought starters for how to prioritise everyone’s wellness, keep everyone entertained, and remain an effective employee while working from home.

a woman working in solitude not distracted by kids
Nobody expects you to be your kids’ teacher

If you’re feeling the pressure to suddenly transform into a qualified educator for children, don’t. You have more than enough to handle right now, which includes (but isn’t limited to) keeping your little people germ-free, your cupboards and fridge stocked and smashing out excellent work to keep the cogs on the economic wheel churning. If you’re doing all of this, you’re already a superhero. So, put down the home-schooling hourly schedules you found on your favourite celebrity mum’s social media page and practise a bit of “un-schooling”. Oh, and if ever there was a time to relax your stance on screen time for your kids, it’s now. The world is turning a collective blind eye if it means staying home and staying healthy.

Take this advice from a school principal in Australia, which many people are sharing on the socials:

You are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health. Don’t let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.”

a young woman smiling while holding a cup of coffee and sitting cross legged on the floor with a laptop
Prioritise mental health

Unfortunately, this multi-tasking will probably be the new norm for a while. Be proactive about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, connectedness to loved ones and your community, and doing things that you enjoy and find relaxing. Try to remember:

  • A healthy diet, regular exercise and good quality sleep is a solid foundation. As is avoiding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope.
  • Calling and video calling friends and loved ones and encouraging community spirit through kindness and thoughtfulness will help you stay connected. Social distancing makes it challenging to maintain social connections, but not impossible. We’ve never had better technology to make this work.
  • Practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness is great to quiet your mind. This can double as a calm activity to do with the kids too.
  • Make time for doing things you enjoy.

Avoid the constant media coverage about the coronavirus and refer occasionally to trusted organisations like the World Health Organization for updates. If you’re finding it hard to manage your anxiety and concern, it’s okay to seek additional support. A great place to start is Beyond Blue.

two young kids painting and decorating eggs
Find happiness and effectiveness in a family routine

Make no mistake, “un-schooling” does not mean “no routine”. The only thing that can make this situation worse is chaos. A family routine can help you prioritise your wellness, effectively do your job and make your kids feel more secure. Create a routine that works for your unique situation. When you’re doing this, consider things like:

  • Your children’s ages – If your children are not yet of school age, you might have to reset your expectations about how much work you can get done during the day, so you might need to break your work hours up over a longer period
  • Your recurring work meetings
  • Mealtimes (for you and the kids)
  • Time for mental breaks from work and your usual routines (anyone else love a 10am coffee?)
  • Outdoor time and exercise
  • Activities that bring joy to each person in your home
  • Social connectedness through telephone and video calls to friends and loved ones in replacement of face-to-face catch ups

Work will inevitably blur into life, so instead of focusing on “9-5”, set daily and weekly goals and structure your time to deliver to these.

Some online resources that you and the kids will love

You’re going to need every spare minute of peace you can get to squeeze in your work, so here are some fantastic digital resources you can utilise that we’re sure will keep the kids peacefully occupied for short blocks. Add this to your arsenal for your next video conference call!

YouTube

Educational videos on any subject you can imagine. For school-aged kids, check out Art Hub for Kids, MathsAntics, and Mark Rober for science classes. There are so many great creators and channels to discover but stick to the ones you know well if you’re not going to be watching with the kids.

BTN (Behind The News) on iview

If you’re in Australia, check out the news in a high-energy, fun way for kids with BTN. Watch the daily show BTN Newsbreak and the weekly show BTN Classroom here.

Museum at Home

Online content coming out of your ears including virtual tours of exhibitions, so you can take all the time you want exploring. Many museums around the globe are offering this service. Here’s a link to our local museum.

Live streaming animals at the zoo

Check out your local zoo for live streaming some of their enclosures! Here’s a link to Melbourne Zoo.

Story time

Check out your local library’s website – some are live streaming story time!

Acquila children’s magazine

For kids who can read, this incredible children’s magazine is offering a FREE online learning resource full of fun articles, activities, puzzles etc which all add up to busy and occupied little children. Win!

Take a free virtual rollercoaster ride just for kicks and giggles!

And don’t forget, if you’re a myDNA Nutrition and Fitness customer, you’ll have a whole range of workouts on your myDNA portal you can do from home which could be inspiration for your kids if they have some energy they need to burn!

Even if you’re not yet a myDNA customer, you can get a taste by checking out these Free Home Workouts with our celebrity trainer Luke Milton!

Unfortunately, there’s no indication of how long we’ll need to keep these juggling balls in the air, so all we can do now is take things one step at a time. We hope some of this helped with the epic juggle that lies ahead of you.

Make the most of the craziness by cherishing your loved ones and being the best version of yourself for your kids, your colleagues and your community. The coronavirus pandemic is seriously impacting our world, and many people in our community are doing it tough right now. If you’re fortunate enough to be working in a job, and working in the safety of your home, look after yourself by being proactive about your wellness so you can not only survive but thrive in this new world.

woman with one of her kids playing at a window

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