The coronavirus outbreak has forced companies to adapt and change their working conditions to ensure business continuity. Further to social distancing recommendations, the solution of home office was mostly adopted , which we continue to practice today at Foyer Global Health. For parents with children, this new situation was a real challenge. In our team we have parents who had to quickly organize themselves with their daily lives.
If the epidemic had a significant impact on the parents’ professional activity, the same was true for the children whose schools were closed as soon as the first containment measures were taken. Children had to do their homework and exercises at home, often supported by their parents who had no choice but to juggle their work and children education. A whole new form of cohabitation for which few of us were prepared. For Anne, “Teleworking with the children during the confinement was definitely a challenge, as it was necessary to combine teaching and work. It was great to to be able to adjust work schedules with family needs, and to see that teleworking was recognized as work in its own right”.
Foyer Global Health provided the means and tools to ensure that everyone could work while fulfilling his/her role as a parent. Exceptional parental leaves were beneficial, as Frédéric describes: “Fortunately, the Luxembourg government has allowed employees to take some time off to look after their children. In my case, I worked part-time, which made it much easier to manage the situation». This “free” time also allowed parents to adapt to the exceptional circumstances. “Like many of my friends, we applied practical learning”, Jean-Baptiste explains. “Although I was familiar with teleworking for almost 10 years, I had rarely been confronted with a situation where I had to manage my daily work and my children. So, there was a week of adjustments for the children any myself, as this situation was anything but natural».
For parents with young children, it was all about organization and strategy. Amandine tells us about her experience with her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Marta: “It was almost impossible to work when my baby’s eyes were open – I really had to lock myself up to be able to concentrate on my work”
With toddlers, our best advice is to adjust your sleeping schedule. Sleeping early to get up in good shape is crucial to staying healthy. You can also make the most of your time by taking advantage of your child’s afternoon nap to get a head start.
With children aged between 6-7 years, the approach is a little different, as they usually can understand the situation better, and it is easier to impose certain rules and boundaries. Jean-Baptiste found his solution at home: “I’ve set up a very simple rule: when the door of my office is closed, they must not come and disturb me under any circumstances. On the other hand, when the door of my office is open, then they can come and see me and ask me all the questions they want”. In addition to setting the necessary limits, try to keep your child always busy during your working hours so that they get as little bored as possible. Offer new games, such as outdoor games, and try to be innovative, even if it’s not easy. If you can keep a child occupied for more than an hour with one activity, you’re lucky. It’s very frustrating for a homeworker and a child to be together in a limited space such as an apartment».
Despite the drawbacks, let’s look on the bright side: this new way of working allows the family to share more time together, and sometimes even to rediscover each other. Jean-Baptiste agrees: “This exceptional situation has allowed me to get to know my children better, both their personalities and their ability to adapt”. It is important to explain to your child the extent of the epidemic, the issues of containment or why you need to be careful. It will help them feel more involved and understand all the rules. Amandine understands this: “Even though she’s not speaking yet, Marta has noticed something unusual was going on – my advice is to explain to her what the coronavirus situation is, and why you have to wear a mask to protect yourself – by putting a mask on the doll, for example».
Even if you get the impression that your children are just asking for constant attention and constantly bothering you at work, remember that you are finally in the same boat, and they are also trying to find their marks. For the children, it would seem that the difficulty is mainly due to a lack of social life. Anne’s 12-year-old son tells us: “Home school is cool, I can rest between assignments, but I really miss friends”. His 10-year-old sister shares this opinion, saying she prefers to learn with her friends and see them more often.
With the progressive deconfinement across Europe and the good weather, allow yourself and your family a few breaks during the day. It can also be an opportunity to regain a healthier diet after a few sugary excesses during confinement. If you have any tips or interesting advice for parents who telework, please feel free to share and write below. We will be very happy to read. 😉