It is a significant sigh of relief that we can begin to discuss what life will look like now that we can return to our office more freely than in the past fourteen months. Regardless, that relief does not come without strings attached. Take working parents, for example. Over the past year, the blurred lines for parents between professional and personal responsibilities that resulted from the new remote work standard presented a new set of challenges.
Now that parents finally have the hang of working from home and balancing familial duties, what is next now that returning to the office is on the horizon? Here are some tips for working parents planning on heading back to the office.
Identify Your Support System Or A “Pod”
It can be anxiety-inducing not knowing what comes next for your children while you return to work. Think about how many of us have shared the same roof with our families. Plus, think about how long we may have lived with our families all under the same roof. With these circumstances in mind, it is reasonable to fear the unknown of returning to normal after an unthinkable public health crisis shook our worlds.
Staying grounded during the COVID-19 pandemic often seemed much easier said than done. For parents, the stakes are higher. Working parents not only had to navigate the transition from working in the office to remote work, but they also had to grapple with remote learning.
The intersection of these significant responsibilities inspired the formation of “pods,” when 1-2 families choose to spend time with each other exclusively. By limiting contact to the families in your pod, working parents could rest assured that they had an extra set of hands to assist with meal prep, childcare, and everything in between.
As you begin to brainstorm how you will delegate responsibilities pertinent to your family and children during your return to the office, you may sleep a little bit better at night knowing that you have the support of your pod. Since pods allow working parents to pool responsibilities, you can use these resources as a means of backup childcare. Alternatively, you may also want to consider expanding your pod for a more extensive network of support.
Expanding your pod can also include a dialogue with current and prospective members to brainstorm new ways to support each other and get on the same page regarding a schedule.
Play To Your Strengths Without Agonizing Over Your Weaknesses
No two parenting styles are exactly alike. Instead of comparing yourself to your peers with envy, consider how you can align with the like-minded people around you. Take school pick-up, for example. If you typically run into the same family when you pick up your children from school, then you may want to suggest alternating pick-up. That efficiency can help free up your work schedule for extra meetings or give you more time at home for housekeeping, meal preparation, etc.
Playing to your strengths without agonizing over your weaknesses requires a significant degree of proactive thinking. For example, if you tend to get a little forgetful when you are navigating a transition, be sure to have people you can call in case of an emergency. That might include a network of babysitters, nannies, or tutors that can lend a helping hand to you and your children should you need it.
At work, feel free to make a mental short-list of who you can contact for specific tasks that comprise a significant amount of your workload. That way, you know who to contact if you have to call out of work for a personal reason related to your family and children. In addition, you may also want to let your manager know that you are anticipating a significant life transition ahead of you by returning to the office.
Giving your manager a heads up can help them pitch in to identify who can help you with your workload in case of a family emergency. They may also be willing to assist you with a flexible work schedule, such as a hybrid model.
About Krishen Iyer
Krishen Iyer is a renowned self-starter with expertise in insurance distribution centers, contracting, and marketing. After graduating from the San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in urban development and public administration, Iyer began working with insurance distribution centers to help them manage their traffic and digital marketing strategies. Nearly twenty years later, Iyer is now the founder of MAIS Consulting Services, a consulting firm specializing in health and dental insurance.
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