When I joined Yarno full time earlier this year I had spent 2 years at home with my two daughters and was definitely ready to get back to the world of work. I craved adult conversation, being able to finish a task uninterrupted and a chance to use my brain. Not to mention drinking a cup of hot coffee.
Having worked part time for Yarno whilst on mat leave I thought I knew what was coming. However, the juggle, people, is real. In the words of the lovely Jocelyn Schitt:
Hit by gastro and my daughter starting school (hello 2.40pm pick up), all within the first month of life as a full time Yarnoer (working 4 days a week), I knew I had to set out some rules. Here are my top 5 tips to surviving as a working parent.
1. Create a clear separation between work and home.
Firstly, I knew early on that I did not want to sit at the kitchen table in full view of potential mess that I would feel compelled to clean up! I also wanted to be able to come out into the kitchen and living area for a mental break - to make a cup of tea and clear my mind. With my husband, Mark, and I both working from home this was tricky but we made sacrifices. Or should I say, our two daughters did! By moving them both into the one bedroom we were able to free up our third bedroom as an office for Mark. We are fortunate to have an inbuilt office area behind our kitchen, which I took. A good solution all round. Not that it is without its faults. Apparently I talk very loudly when I'm on the phone and with no door to close off my office space this can be tricky. We are looking into putting one in...
Secondly, I have a wardrobe of beautiful work clothes and there was no way I was going to leave them hanging. So I committed to 'dressing up' for the office. Okay, so sometimes I've got my slippers on but on the whole I like wearing a smart outfit, putting make up on and dragging a brush through my hair. It helps get me in 'the zone' and makes up for the fact that I really only leave the house to get milk now.
2. Let tools and timeboxing be your friend
This has saved my head from exploding many times. I treated myself to some fancy Kikki-K stationary a while back, including a weekly planner that I like to use to plot out what I'm going to work on when. There's something about getting it all out of my head and down onto paper that is soooooooooooooo satisfying. But we live in a digital age, right? My fancy paper planner can't ping me notifications when a task is due.
At Yarno, we are big fans of Asana. Essentially Asana is a very useful tool that allows you to set up project plans, allocate tasks and set deadline reminders. I'd be lost without it!
Once I've done this, I then use my google calendar to timebox my week. Which is essentially me blocking out parts of my day to do certain tasks and then doing them! It helps me to feel less overwhelmed, too - especially when I'm also navigating my way through the seemingly hundreds of school-admin related emails!
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Mark and I had a few hiccups in those first few weeks, "are you picking the girls up, today or am I?" It was the day that Mark came home from a meeting at 5pm, without either child, cue comical "where are the girls?", "I thought you were picking them up!", that we realised we needed to sort our comms out! (Don't worry, they were both at long daycare at the time so we hadn't left them stranded at the school gates.) The google calendar absolutely became our friend. Mainly because if it's not in Mark's diary it's not happening! I then created an elaborate plan for sharing the pick up and drop offs and set up calendar events.
At Yarno we use Slack as our primary comms tool - it's a messaging app on steroids! We can chat one-on-one or in groups. A feature that I love is the ability to set your profile status. Some of the options we have here at Yarno are; In a meeting, Enjoying food, Exercising, In the flow. Or you can create custom ones yourself. So I find setting my profile as 'not working' on a Thursday (my non-work day) is a clear reminder to my colleagues that I won't be contactable. I've also added my work days to my email signature for increased visibility.
Having spent two years running around after two kids the switch to 7.5 hours a day in a chair were a shock to the body. That, plus easy access to the fridge, meant I felt pretty unfit pretty quickly. Fitting in exercise is one of my biggest struggles, and I've still not nailed it. I do however schedule in pilates once a week, it's on a Tuesday at 9.30-10.15am and I feel AMAZING when I come out of that class. It sets me up properly for the rest of the day, and the week. Do yourself a favour, prioritise exercise and remember to set your Slack status to
And finally, number 5...
5. Be kind to yourself
Being a working parent is exhausting! And whilst working from home is becoming more and more acceptable, and with it the advantages of less time commuting, more time with the family, being able to chuck on some washing during the day, it doesn't take away from the fact that the juggle is hard. So, with much encouragement and support from my family, I'm trying to be kinder to myself (it really doesn't matter if the house is a tip) and put myself first (no, I don't need to say yes to every invitation). I'll let you know how I get on!
Holly is a mother, marketing wiz, feedback guru and all round A+ person. She’s the woman that Sarah Jessica Parker movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” is based on.
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