What a week!

Schools are doing the hokey cokey. They’re in, they’re out, just waiting for orders to shake it all about. Everyone is back at home, needing a piece of you — the pressure to be everything to everyone and fulfil your professional obligations is getting too much. Is it really possible to stay sane in the process?

It feels like an impossible task.

Families have been thrown back into a very intense situation. We are fighting for the broadband, trying to navigate the various online learning platforms that education experts have named after a set of intergalactic heroes.

I mean who thinks up these names? Logon to Zumblezoot, scroll to Educackle and then download the tasks from Gazelzam.

Computer says no. Sorry, your login is not recognised. We can’t even get past the first level.

You abort online learning. The keyboard warriors on your school facebook page are preaching about teaching ‘life skills’ with all this ‘extra’ time we have. Extra time? Not in my world.

Who even likes banana bread?

Even if you did have the ingredients or the patience, it’s not going to work. Your partner is literally getting under your feet and keeps circulating the kitchen island to get his ‘steps’ up! Of course, his calls are more important than your calls (or vice versa, not wanting to stereotype). Cue competitive discussion that rolls into something resembling guerrilla warfare. Give me strength.

Professionals like you all over the country are in turmoil, feeling stressed and overwhelmed with a long 6 weeks ahead of them. The pressure to educate our kids is immense. It is triggering a lot of self-doubt and inadequacy amongst working parents. This carries through into the working dynamic. People are left feeling they are trying to do everything but badly. In turn, this leads to overworking and more stress and overwhelm and eventually they burnout.

I don’t have all the answers, and I am certainly no parenting expert. I do have 5 things to share that might help you negotiate the next 6 weeks and keep your sanity intact:

  1. Get up, dress, up, show up – we all know the benefits of a routine, we have been here before. Yes, your routine may be slightly different than LD 1.0 and 2.0, but the one thing that remains the same is that we need to invest in ourselves. Yes, I have been known to pull out the sequins for a Zoom call, and you don’t need to go that far! Just find what works for you to get into a resourceful mindset. This goes for the kids too – get them out of their PJs and ready to focus if they dressed to be productive, they are more likely to be.
  2. Prioritise what matters and let go of the rest – it’s easier said than done when the stress levels are rising. Still, you are required to ask some hard questions of yourself and of others to establish what actually matters. Break things down into bite-size chunks. If you need to sort out the kids’ logins and resources to engage in virtual school, just focus on that. Cancel or postpone other commitments – your colleagues will understand. Take one day at a time.
  3. Redefine progress – as @mother_pukka says you are not wfh right now. You are in your home working in a crisis. You cannot expect the same of yourself that you did when everything was in its nice neat boxes. This doesn’t necessarily mean lowering your standards, it does mean revisiting what success is in the current circumstances.
  4. Consciously create a self-care plan – you cannot serve your kids, clients, colleagues etc if you are running on empty. Identify the things that resource you make sure they are high on your priority list. Mine include movement, fresh air, good food and a conversation outside of my family unit every single day.
  5. Throw money at it – a phrase I need to justify. I am not talking about being reckless, nor am I dismissing that finance is tight for many people. Invest in the best you can afford. If you can farm out your ironing because that’s the thing tipping you over the edge then do it. If you are eating rubbish because you have no energy to think about meals, then sign up to Gousto or Mindful Chef for the next 6 weeks and give yourself a break.

You don’t have to do this alone. Don’t be the hero. Don’t become a martyr. Just take a few deep breaths, look at where your pressure points are and get creative about how you tackle them – one stress at a time.

I salute all of you that are shouldering the responsibility of raising and educating children and juggling a career right now. It’s challenging and you WILL get through it.

If you have any other tips you would like to share, just hit REPLY – we are all in this together and the more we can support each other the better. If you need any help getting some perspective, then get in touch.

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