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Home isolation and the Covid-19 crisis sent a whirlwind into so many of our lives – it threw any kind of organised routine into complete chaos.  These are the biggest lessons I have learnt during this experience.

I’m in a unique position right now: I was a teacher for many years, and I now work for education tech company Education Perfect, which has allowed me the opportunity for the past four years to work from home.

It was a big change from fronting a classroom full of teenagers, but it’s one to which I have become adjusted and comfortable over that time.

When the coronavirus lockdowns started, I suddenly found myself sharing my home workspace with my husband – in between us juggling the process of looking after our two kids, both under four.

He’s new to this ‘working from home’ experience, while I already had good systems in place. A desk (which I now share with him!) and good chair go a long way to helping carve out our designated workspace. But there have been other key things we’ve learnt these past couple of months; the things that have kept us both in the right mindset when it comes to being full-time at-home parents, simultaneously while being full-time at-home employees.

It’s very easy to become overwhelmed

I initially thought there’d be plenty of online advice for the broader social, structural and psychological advice and help that was needed for all of us to adjust as a family unit, at home, balancing work and family time. I figured the transition would be challenging, but not impossible. The problem I found is the help that’s available online isn’t ‘one size fits all’. When it comes to finding out what works, I’ve had to learn by doing. As a former educator, this is a useful process. And for me, there have been a lot of lessons learnt, but they really break down to three key findings.

1) Adaptation is key

Like many things in life, you need to be able to take the advice and guidance online as a guide, a first step, and adapt to your own circumstances. We have two children: Archie, who is three and Margaux, who is one. Many well-intentioned and helpful guides have all these useful tips for managing your time with kids on a full-time basis. One of the tips has been setting specific tasks and activities down in a timetable and following that as a routine.

Of the many timetables floating around on the web, a scarce few are helpful. So, what have my husband, who is also working from home, and I done? My one-year-old daughter Margaux doesn’t do ‘independent creative time’. I’d be great if she did, but it’s not particularly realistic for a young one. The only solution is to invent our own and adapt to what works best for us. That’s all you can do, really – do what works best for you, and change things up if they don’t.

2) Routine

Every night, my husband and I quickly map out the following day – what meetings or time commitments we have, and what we need to get done. I think the teacher in me means that still super organised and like to have a plan. We make a conscious plan to exercise, which is a very useful thing; it’s good to get the blood pumping, and there’s any number of other reasons to get some exercise every day – it’s good for the skin, your mental health, boosts your energy levels and your mood. The kids can burn off their energy and let off some steam.

We make a point to never miss morning tea together as a family. Sometimes my husband and I tag-team work and parenting and we barely cross paths for the whole day. It’s funny how it can happen that you can share the same house, yet seldom see each other. A shared morning tea has become one of the real joys of being together 24/7.

The key lesson I’ve learnt is that while everything around you is the product of restrictions, you will find freedom in structure. Even when you’re at home. You have things to look forward to, and you’ll most definitely appreciate the small stuff.

3) Sleep, perchance to dream

Getting enough sleep is the perennial struggle for most parents of young kids! Once they’re asleep, the real tension rises between wanting to enjoy some quiet time and knowing I need to go to bed, so I’ll have energy for the next day. Finding the way to crack this one has thus far escaped me, but it’s the goal. Your ability to get the right amount of sleep is something you never consider before you have kids – because when you finish work you have nothing but free time and the opportunity to decompress. You go to bed when you’re tired. For parents, you’re always tired. One of the key things I’ve learnt from the lockdown is that down-time is as important as anything, so make a point to schedule some before you go to bed, otherwise you’re never not ‘on’.

What top lessons did you take away from the Covid-19 crisis? Tell us in the comments below?

  • It has been very overwhelming, but these are some very good tips to know and keep in mind. We are all just in the unknown as well so being patient and understanding to others is also so important

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  • That using video calls with the grandparents are a must from know on. So much more personal and gives them greater access during the week

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  • zoom has saved our sanity.

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  • Great article. I have been very lucky that I was already in iso for health reasons so it was easy to continue but not so easy to stop.

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  • I am grateful that during COVID19 I was fortunate enough to have capacity to work from home for my employer, so my days were spent juggling work demands and then encouraging and assisting my girls learn from home while schools were shut and continue the normal day to day running of my home/family. What I learnt during COVID19 that no matter how much the media, employees, businesses, health department, government etc informed us about social distancing, wearing masks/gloves, staying home if you feel unwell etc is that still a lot of people didn’t respect this and still went out and put others at risk knowingly. Makes my blood boil when the majority have been doing the right thing and then all it takes is for 1 idiot to do the wrong thing an unravel everything!

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  • Having always loved and appreciated my home and the time I spend with family, the Covid lock downs has accentuated how important it is to cherish these moments and time. I have learnt, however, how much we take for granted the simple things like going to the shops, park, or, anywhere, for that matter ….


    • I hope everyone now has a greater appreciation and love of all the ‘small things’ in life that make it is so very precious.

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  • I took being grateful for everything that I have. Adapting was another good lesson that came out of COVID.

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  • To try be n the moment and enjoy sowing down and being with loved ones

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  • i would have liked more time at home as had to go to work

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  • I loved the lockdown time. Nowhere to go, lots of sleeps ins and family time, bliss.

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  • How precious family is and that we should always make time to be together.

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  • Makes you take stock of the here and now not the i wants or i needs. Family is the most important thing in the world knew it before but somehow even more now.

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  • Time spent with family is so precious and important.

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  • I live in the now and appreciate every precious moment and this has been amplified by covid-19. I continue to make the most of every day and encourage others to do the same.

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  • I learnt that we are all tougher thank we think including children

    Reply

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