COVID-19 Remote Working Tips from a Mom of Three

By Diane Hurd
May 8, 2020

It’s been several weeks since schools have closed, and stay-at-home orders have been issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And, although I’ve always worked from home semi-regularly, I’m learning to work remotely full-time while adding roles as head chef, house cleaner, school nurse, referee, and teacher/babysitter to my three children (ages 3, 6 and 9).

As the reality of our new norm sets in, parents everywhere are working to tackle this new challenge of balancing being productive, while establishing new rules and working arrangements with our new “co-workers.”

With a little planning, flexibility and creativity – I’ve found a few tips that have worked for our family (most days) to survive these unprecedented times:

Concentrate on what’s in your control.

When the stay-at-home orders went into effect, I set up individual workstations in the house for each of us, made a family/school schedule and hung it on the refrigerator, and set expectations. Although every day is far from perfect, things that are working for us include: getting up at the same time each day, taking 30 minutes each morning to create task lists and get the kids set up with assignments, splitting school shifts with my husband, and keeping the house and our workstations organized (as much as possible) to eliminate further distractions.

Dedicate time to focus.

Collaborating and connecting with our team and clients has never been more important, but I’ve also found that I still need dedicated time to focus on my specific tasks and projects. To keep me focused, I’ll turn off email notifications for a brief period or schedule dedicated time on my calendar. Another tip is to use simple household chores as a timer for staying focused and getting work done. For example, throw a load of laundry in and commit to accomplishing a task before switching it over to the dryer.

Be creative and have a sense of humor.

This time has forced us to think outside of the box and to get creative in the way we work and communicate with one another. Our team has implemented new tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and others, to keep us better connected. At home, I’ve found creative ways to keep the kids busy and moving – from mastering Fabio’s Meatball Run on GoNoodle to bringing our inflatable bounce house inside on rainy days.

Take breaks and prioritize mental health.

Consider taking a few five-minute breaks each day to recharge your batteries – enjoy a walk outside to get away from the computer or take a deep-breathing break to clear your mind and to re-focus. The relax function on my Fitbit works great for relieving stress, and my kids love it too. It’s also important to prioritize your own mental health – read a book, go for a run, take up a new hobby, or hide in a closet for five minutes of alone time (any other moms out there that can relate?).

Share gratitude and find the silver lining.

There are many days where it feels more like we are surviving v. thriving – and I’ve learned in these last few weeks that that’s okay. Each day, identify at least one positive thing that has happened and share gratitude with others – whether it’s a colleague who has gone above and beyond, or to acknowledge a client or friend for their leadership during this challenging time.

Without a doubt, this is a trying and scary time for all of us as we navigate these uncharted waters. And, yet, I am daily reminded by how fortunate I am to remain employed and that our family is healthy. I am grateful for all workers on the front lines who continue to keep our nation safe, sustain our food supply, and lift up our most vulnerable families. Together, we will get through this and will be stronger for it.