Holding your own at home and finding calm in the chaos

“We aren’t just working from home, we are at home working during a crisis’

Guest post by Alison McDowall of The Positive Planner

Having been a creative freelancer working from home for years prior to this pandemic, I have some experience in knowing what works and what doesn’t work when looking after yourself and others in your home alongside your own professional commitments. That is not to say that it has got easier but there are a few key pointers to mention that I have learnt (the hard way) over the years.

Being the co-director of a company that is all centred around mental health of course I am going to talk about this from a wellbeing perspective, because let’s face it, if you don’t work not much else will.

1. Clear is Kind

The first thing to talk about has to be boundaries. Boundaries help us keep everyone aware of what’s happening and clearly define what is ok and what is not ok for us. When trying to collaborate with everyone around you it’s important you verbalise what you need, and ask for cooperation.

2. Make space for head space

Physical boundaries and a space dedicated to your work will help indicate to yourself and others that this is work time. Try and make this corner of your home a sanctuary for you, maybe it has some nice things that make you feel happy or a candle that can help you feel calm if you have to clock in some hours after bedtime. 

3. Put the kids in charge

(Or make them think they are) 

We created some free planning materials to download on our website for this very reason. Having a planning session with your children before you start the day can really help them feel in control too and it helps you to communicate how the day will work, but in much more of a collaborative way! Use this time to write down your own intentions for the day and work out the shape of the day ahead.

4. Go with the Flow

All of this requires a healthy dose of flexibility. Without this you will become resentful and frustrated especially when everything around you is in a constant flux and flow. There will need to be a certain amount of bending and shapeshifting as you adapt to the different needs each day brings. Try and find a routine that works for you but always be aware things may not go quite as planned.

5. Let go of the guilt 

You have to prepare yourself not to ‘feel’ as productive as normal, but in fact your work load has increased enormously now that you are now providing meals, doing the domestic chores, working and home schooling. In fact you have probably never been as productive as you are right now but it feels so choppy you may feel like you aren’t doing anything particularly well. This is so normal so remember to do your ‘to-done’ lists before you go to bed, when you think of all the things you have achieved you will be amazed.

6. Moving helps motivation 

It’s proven that moving gets the serotonin going and as we all need a bit more of the feel good factor at the moment this can be no bad thing. Getting the blood going round the body really helps motivate you and getting fresh air helps too. Try and plan it so that you are able to do this at some point in your day, either to kickstart your day or act as something to look forward to.

7. Down time 

It is tempting to squeeze work in to every free hour you have, but being over productive and over worked only ever results in one thing, burn out. Whether you choose to rest or have an outlet like reading, gardening or baking, whatever it is it will actually make you more productive in the long run, spending time doing something that brings you joy means that you are processing all the other things going on in your life too. 

8. Honesty is always the best policy 

Be honest, most people are very empathetic and understanding and by being truthful about your home situation it will gain you  more respect in the long run. It’s important that you keep expectations realistic. In order to do your job and be a parent all under the same roof of course there is a duty of care to your family and this needs to held in the highest regard! Nobody works harder than a working parent so just ditch the guilt and do your best. 

You can find more helpful tips on staying positive on our website www.thepositiveplanners.com 

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