Every working parent I know has begun to experience what we like to call “the end of days.” As schools, daycares, and workplaces began to shut down, we all began to realize that things were about to change in a major way. It’s like summertime came early, except this time, there’s nowhere to send our little tykes of terror. Even worse, they can no longer be around friends and other family members. Essentially, we have gained brand new co-workers that don’t follow the rules and definitely don’t carry their own weight.
Mind you, I love my son. He’s cute, sweet and adorably chunky. However, with my fiancé gone all day for essential work, and my own workload as a freelance marketer, having a 2-year-old during the 9-5 isn’t without it’s pitfalls. But through recent reflection on our time as “co-workers,” I’ve realized that working with children can teach us all a little something about working with others. In fact, I’m starting to realize that I’ll come out of this whole ordeal with a new and sharpened skillset. Here’s what I’m learning.
#1: Nobody likes a tantrum
Anyone remember those factory safety signs stating, “We have worked X days without accident or injury”? Well, I’m starting to think I need one of those for my home. Having a two-year-old as a coworker certainly keeps things interesting, and Caladin is a great reminder that no one wants to have a coworker that causes problems.
During COVID-19, everyone has to adjust their routine, which isn’t comfortable for anyone. From the tiniest members of your family to the most senior members of any company, change is hard to deal with. Yet, tantrums at any level are obnoxious, and no one wants to deal with it. Exercising extra patience with your family, coworkers, and yourself during this time will help you handle some of the change that is occurring. Not everyone may be familiar with working remotely or all the technology that comes along with it. Not everyone will have the perfect schedule or home office or management of their children. Keep calm, ask for help, and do your best to work through the challenges that come your way. Take a step back and give yourself a time out if necessary but avoid blowing up at anyone unnecessarily.
#2: Keep things positive
Positivity, like toilet paper, may feel like it’s in short supply these days. But we’ve got to remember that the vibe we bring to our personal and professional lives can help to transform the way we live daily. With my fiancé continuing to work as an essential employee, it’s easy to feel on edge about the current situation. However, I know that my emotions can easily impact my son, and I want to ensure that our experience is the best it possibly can be during this crisis.
Similarly, as your work changes within your team, remember that these circumstances are temporary, but the way you react to them will be memorable. Using a positive
attitude to pull everyone together can help keep them from tearing each other apart. Be kind, don’t complain, keep laughing, and create opportunities for engagement. Virtual happy hour? Never a bad idea!
#3: Make sure you’re on the same page
A lot of negative feelings and events can be mitigated by creating manageable expectations. If you’re on the same page with those you’re working with (family members or coworkers), you’ll be far better off. As we head into month two of COVID- 19, you may have slipped from your schedules. Your children are watching more and more TV to get them through the day, and you’re finding it harder to manage work. No judgment!
Yet, it’s never too late to do a “reset” and work to get on the same page. Have a meeting to check in with your coworkers and talk about how you can be more efficient or talk about the challenges you’ve faced in the last month. If you’re facing a specific issue with your children, brainstorm ways that you can remedy it. If it means changing your work schedule, reach out to your team and try to find a solution that will mean greater harmony in the long run.
What We Need to Remember
COVID-19 is a temporary situation, but we’re going to be in this for a little while longer. Right now, it’s about making the best of it and understanding how you can continue to maximize your personal and professional situations. Eventually this “forever summer” will come to an end. That blessed moment will return when our kids turn from co-workers back into regular, good-old-fashion tots of terror. The ones we get to enjoy because they aren’t “in the way.”
Keep your head held high and remember to keep your eyes open for the lessons life always has a way of teaching us.