We all knew the time would come while we are dealing with this covid pandemic. Most of us have been counting down the days until we are vaccine eligible, with fantasies of hugging everyone we see, eating inside a restaurant, and maybe even breathing in an elevator. The vaccines give us the freedom we’ve desired and restore a sense of normalcy to our lives. Seemingly immediately after the side-effects wore off came the dreaded email from HR discussing plans to get back to work and we suddenly were hit with a wave of what “normal” means.
Things Parents Will Miss About Being Home When They Get Back To Work
Although things have been far from easy this past year for working parents, there were some bright spots that we can now reflect on.
The lack of a commute, social events, and gatherings meant more time spent at home for all.
Sure, with this came more meltdowns and epic battles over the-one-toy-no-one-plays-with-but-her-sister-just-happened-to-pick-it-up, but it also came with moments of magic, family movie nights, spontaneous kitchen dance parties, and family dinners becoming an uninterrupted routine.
In fact, 4 out of 5 parents report an increased bond with their kids from the lockdown based on a study of 2,000 British parents.
This past year has widely been recognized by families as a unicorn of a time for togetherness, an opportunity we may never see again when we get back to work.
Hybrid Is The New Normal
After reading the email, venting to several colleagues, and outlining the perfect pitch to HR for a full work from home approval.
Many of us looked down at our empty coffee mugs and thought, ‘well at least there is cold brew at the office’.
Or, ‘I really missed those sandwiches from the café downstairs and realized, it may not be that bad to go back to the office – part of the time.
Most employers are supportive of a hybrid model for the foreseeable future.
In PwC’s report “It’s time to reimagine where and how work will get done”, they describe survey results that indicate 83% of employers reported remote work to be successful and 68% of executives support a 3 day office/2-day remote model moving forward.
This is happening sooner than later, as the study reports, 75% of executives expect employees to be in the office in July.
Working parents have a mixed reaction to this new normal. As Berit, Mom of a toddler son explains, “I’m partially excited and partially nervous. I want a few days a week to totally focus on work with no distractions and collaborate with coworkers, but I haven’t been away from my son much in over a year. That said, it’s OK for my son to be without me sometimes. It’s healthy and normal. I think once the schedule starts, I’ll actually be happy with it and overall, my personal belief is a hybrid is a productive model.”
Parents’ Ways To Adapt When They Get Back To Work
Life as we know it is changing again. But this time, we have a heads up. Here are 3 things we can do to make sure that this new schedule works for all parties and to ease our transition back to the office.
1. Prepare To Get Back To Work
Just as the transition to quarantine was difficult, the change to going back to the office will be as well, however, this time the rug isn’t being slipped from under us. We have the benefit of foresight. Two key people who need to understand your plans are:
- Your boss: align on when and where work will be done as well as the boundaries that you are setting with this new schedule.
- Your kids: notoriously ill-equipped to handle unknowns that come with change, there will be lots of questions in those little heads if you don’t approach it straight on. Kids have loved mid-day playtimes with their parents, lunches together, and knowing that you are close by. Talk with them about logistically where you will be and how you can still fit in that wonderful bonding time that they’ve grown accustomed to expect.
2. Find Ways To Stay Connected When You Get Back To Work
Feeling together doesn’t have to stop when you’re not physically present, find creative ways to strengthen that connection:
- Leave a note for the kids to find at a certain time of the day – for example, if you’re used to always eating lunch together, leave a post-it note at the table with a smiley face or write something fun that you’ll do together over the weekend.
- Use an app to see photos of the kids throughout the day, there are even apps that include event logs to keep you up-to-date in real-time such as the Rayz Kidz app which makes you feel like a part of the kids’ day.
3. Be Present When You Return Home
Work and personal life have blended together over the last year and we now have the opportunity to better separate them again.
- Use the commute time to wind down from your day so that you can leave it aside when coming through the door.
- Spend 2 minutes in the car before heading into the house to answer those last-minute emails and texts, then put the phone down until after bedtime. This undivided attention will be better than the ½ here, ½ there parents that many kids have been getting in this comingled work/home life that we’ve been living for the past year.
Parents will never forget this time we had with our kids, and, if done right, can keep the lessons we learned alive with some thought and intention to how we approach this new normal.
As Berit shares her mixed feelings about going back to work, she realizes life as we used to know it isn’t all bad, “I’m excited to wear cute clothes again”, she admits.
Let’s be ourselves again AND still break out into a spontaneous kitchen dance party whenever we’d like.
Hope this article resonates with you and will help you adapt to the new normal situation.
We have also parenting tips for you how to support your child’s education on our page, How To Support Your Child’s Learning During Covid-19
Annie Delaney is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rayz Kidz, an app for parents and caregivers that improves the quality of childcare at home. The app has key features that make parents’ and caregivers’ lives easier such as daily event logs, curated activities, and photo sharing. Annie, a CPA, has served in various leadership roles at one of the top public accounting firms and a fast-growing alcoholic beverage company. She is also a mom to two young children.