Fifteen months have gone into creating a successful system for navigating "pandemic life” as a working parent from the “comfort” of home. Well done! And now a new shift is coming. Soon we’ll be back in the office. Your strength through the pandemic provides evidence of your ability to adapt. There may be unknowns: How many days will I work from where? Will business travel resume? How will performance expectations shift? Even without all the answers, you can begin to set your family up for success by evaluating how you could reallocate time, define new agreements on tasks/to-do's, and implement boundaries.
We’ve gotten into the mindset of the “flexibility” of being at home (and not commuting). Perhaps your child was home and you’ve visited them periodically. Maybe being at home made pumping/nursing easier. You’ve probably had more family/spouse time than usual. You may have sprinkled chores/errands throughout the day. The cadence of how you completed work likely shifted. This is an invitation to explore what a new workable schedule might look like. Start by choosing 2-3 supportive habits that sync with being back in the office. Start experimenting today. Examples: schedule a date night, determine a set time for chores, block off special time with baby, investigate productivity tools. This need not happen all at once. What 1% changes can you make in managing time?
During quarantine, you probably found a rhythm for who does what at home. Depending on new schedules, shifting those responsibilities might be beneficial. Consider having a meeting with your partner to realistically determine what works better moving forward. Making agreements now will alleviate future stress. How can you streamline/outsource house cleaning, food sourcing or additional childcare while adjusting to getting back to the office? It’s a work in progress (like learning to work from home). Leaning into flexibility will be valuable until schedules become dependable.
Apply these 3 ‘C’ words:
2. Commit (follow through on what you agree to)
3. Check-in (periodically examine what is/isn’t working.)
Perhaps conduct a “practice week” adhering to the new role agreements to reveal pitfalls or gaps in planning.
We’ve gotten in the habit of 24/7 availability and lost a lot of work/home boundaries. The adjustment of being physically back at work will be particularly profound if your baby was born during quarantine and there’s no “before Covid” model of being a working parent. Now is an opportunity to (re)establish a division between work and home. Some things to consider: What hours will I keep? How will I communicate those at work? How will I mentally shift focus from “work mindset” to “home mindset” and be present where I am? What has the pandemic taught me about productivity and personal values and how will I incorporate these moving forward? What information would be valuable to share with my team/manager?
This new “new normal” will take time. I encourage you to choose a single shift to focus on for now. Baby steps. Breathe. Be gentle with yourself.
You’ve got this!
3Be Coaching’s “Back to the Office” series are meant to reflect working parents' real life experiences post-covid. Want to share your own Back to the Office post-covid experience? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Working Parents