Negotiations, deadlines, compromises, bottom lines, deals, deal breakers, mergers, take overs, "back to the drawing boards" - sound like the elements of a fast-paced high flying business environment? Welcome back to the "new normal" of working parents in lockdown level 4. Our own Advocacy and Research Director, Jacqui Southey opens up about lockdown parenting.
Stick to a routine, don't over do screentime, get some exercise, be flexible, be kind to yourself, the list goes on. Great tips for surviving lockdown together with our children, but these great tips need to come with a healthy side of reality.
Being plunged into a completely unexpected level 4 lockdown, means being plunged into a certain level of chaos, and even more so when you have young children and your work from home continues.
Personally I'm a fan of routines, they help to keep us organised and manage a busy workload, they are great for our children as they too have busy lives and benefit from knowing what to expect each day.
Routines in lockdown are another story. Yes it's still important to rise and shine, have breakfast, and get dressed for the day. Yet on some days in lockdown, you need to inject a giant dollop of flexibility.
The ideal rise and shine routine can become more like a full-scale negotiation or takeover when your 6-year-old has decided today is pyjama day and getting dressed is a total deal breaker. Your next Zoom is starting in 15 minutes and really what is so important about getting dressed anyway – at least until the next window between zooms.
Again, I am all for the healthy diet, we know we feel better when we are eating healthy food to fuel our bodies and minds, and there is a mountain of research to support this.
Yet again, when that next zoom call is looming at 10am, and it's 9.50am, and your 4-year-old has found the chocolate biscuits with more determination than Hillary conquering Everest, what do you do? Have a biscuit, the apples can wait until the next zoom break.
And of course the working parent's nemesis – screentime. We know that TV or tablets are not ideal babysitters, but level 4 really doesn't care. So yes you guessed it, it's okay, sure, just watch this quietly for 15 mins (really the next hour) while mummy and daddy are on zoom.
It feels frantic, and in reality, it is frantic, but it's important we try to retain a certain amount of humour and calm – and truly try to be kind to ourselves.
What matters far more than whether the extra screentime will turn our brains to mush or this is the fifth Baked Beans meal in a row, is that our children love us and we love them, we don't need to be in charge and perfect all of the time.
We can let our children take the lead, set the terms of the deal, while we are open to compromise, and maybe let some of the lockdown stress take a backseat for us and our children.
Being supported by our workplaces is also an important part of this time. When we move our work into our homes our children become a key stakeholder and need to be considered and included as part of our overall work goals.
When we can, we will get the exercise, get dressed and eat the healthy food, and most importantly care for each other, and this will help to get us through our current level 4 situation.
So take it easy, reward yourselves for being part of the hugely important work of containing this virus and acknowledge the children who are part of the team.