Most of us will have had an email from Headquarters asking us to work from home. And many of us were hit with a wave of panic. How can we work from home with our partner, kids, dog and the in-laws, all under our feet? Where will we go? Will we argue? Do we have enough food and energy to keep us going?
So, we’ve pulled together a few simple wins to survive this “new normal” with a smile on your face.
1. Coworking space
With your space being so integral to your everyday set up during the foreseeable future, creating an area that is yours during your working hours is vital. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Your table: Kitchen table, private desk or dressing table, make sure you have your own space. It might become messy, be temporarily invaded by tiny people, and/or need to be cleared away at the end of the day, but it’s vital that the area is yours during work hours.
- Your chair: Being uncomfortable and having bad posture will only make a challenging time worse. So, getting a good chair is really important. Your company may arrange for your chair to be delivered to you, so it is worth asking. Alternatively, buy a cheap exercise ball to sit on; it won’t let you slouch, and it makes for a good back bend stretch when you take breaks.
- Your boundaries at home: establish set times that you must not be disturbed. We suggest 9-11am, 1-3pm and 4-5pm, so that you can join most meetings, be online during peak hours, but also allow for a few hours where you can be disturbed by bored or hungry children.
- Your boundaries with work: it’s all too easy to get sucked into ‘one more email’ when you’re working from home. It’s really important to put the laptop away at your usual work leaving time and move away from your workload.
2. Kids activities
The kids are off school, you’ve stood on the 100th toy, your coffee is cold, and it’s only 8:30am. But we’ve got your back with a few simple suggestions to keep the kids busy that don’t include messy and exhausting ‘arts and crafts’:
- Exercise online: There are loads of great exercise YouTube channels for kids. The UK’s ‘The Body Coach’ (aka. Joe Wicks) is doing a daily live kids exercise class on his YouTube channel. Or Cosmic Kids Yoga has a library of themed yoga and mindfulness sessions.
- Scavenger hunts: Give your little ones a daily scavenger hunt of things that might not be so easy, such as ‘Five things that Grand ma loves’, ‘Five things that are from France’. They can have all day (or until your working day is over) to find the things.
- World Tour: Every day, choose a new country that the kids are going to visit. They will prepare food from that country, learn words in the language and watch videos of daily life there. At the end of the day, the kids can fill out a workbook with everything they learnt.
- Virtual dance parties: Make a date in the diary with friends and family to get together for a dance party. Using FaceTime, Zoom or any other video call app, each family will take it in turns to be the DJ for 30 minutes. And dance your socks off!
3. Taking a break and get some fresh air
Whether it’s a walk outside or an open window, make time to get some fresh air. Especially while the weather is getting better, open the windows, take in some Vitamin D and try to breathe in some fresh air; 4 seconds in through your nose and 4 seconds out through your mouth. If you can do this 4 times per day for 5 minutes, your anxiety levels could begin to subside.
4. Balanced diet
Cupboards filled with food? Always hungry? We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to help you:
1. Don’t eat the kids’ snacks. Put them in a separate drawer and only get them out when the kids are in need.
2. Eat all three meals. Even if you’re “not a breakfast person” or don’t feel you have enough time, trust us it will make a difference. You won’t be reaching for the snacks, you won’t be hangry when it comes to making lunch or dinner, and you won’t dip into that mid-afternoon slump when Skype doesn’t work, the kids want some entertainment and you can’t hear your own thoughts over the sound of your stomach growling.
3. Make way for the holy trio: carbs, veg and protein. And make sure you have all three in every. single. meal.
4. Conference calls: When times are tough – like they are now – we need to realise there are some things in life that are simply not worth worrying about. And conference call woes is one of them. When the line keeps dipping, when you can’t hear a caller over the kids screaming, or when you don’t have enough time, postpone the conference call, write an email, and let the Gods do the rest.
5. Daily routine and habits
A strict daily routine can help you stay away from chaos. Set yourself four or five ‘house rules’ that cannot be broken without a very good reason. Ours include:
- Wake up the household at the same time every day to make sure you have enough breathing room to get ready to start work.
- Set your ‘closed door’ routine (see above) to help you tick things off your to-do list.
- Eat at the same time every day will make sure a Hangry Household doesn’t erupt.
- Make your meetings work around the routine; not the other way around.
6. Healthy lifestyle: at home exercise
Exercise can help your mental and physical health during these challenging times. There are loads of YouTube accounts and exercise coaches who are offering free sessions. Our favourites include:
- Hiit: The Body Coach (aka. Joe Wicks)
- Yoga: Yoga with Adriene
- Aerobics: POPSUGAR Fitness
- Pilates: Blogilates
7. Conversation exchange
Our hearts have all been warmed by the videos of people singing together from their balconies and windows during these challenging times. It’s clear that staying connected from afar can help us get through this, together. Whether it’s a chat over the fence with a neighbour, a group call with your girlfriends, or your family WhatsApp group, this is the time to pull together and make each other smile.