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Many of us are struggling to juggle the responsibilities of family and work. Here's some advice that may help.
As we enter a new phase in our new day-to-day realities, trying to meet the demands of personal and professional life can be challenging in both new and familiar ways. According to Aisha Ahmad, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and Chair of Women in International Security - Canada, what we’re mentally experiencing at this point of the ongoing pandemic is in some ways psychologically similar to spending prolonged periods in disaster or war zones. Now that the shock of the changes around us has worn off, and we know that we may be arranging our lives around coronavirus for many more months, many of us have begun to feel like we’re hitting a six-month “wall.”
With the myriad of ways schools are asking families to adapt as classes resume this fall, this can be especially true for working parents. Last week, we spoke with executive coaches, and parents, Kristen Mathews, Kara Dodson and Randy Liss about their work on the Parent-in-Law Project, as well as what coping strategies and solutions they’ve seen work for clients and project participants this year.
Here’s their advice.
Ask for what you need.
“[What] I’ve heard most from lawyers that have felt support from their employers, from their bosses, from leadership: communicate about what you really need,” said Kara Dodson. “That is one of the things that I have seen really be the most successful coping strategy—to be able to communicate. Communication and the openness between leadership and the people who work for them [works.]”
A little exercise can go a long way.
Kara also advises that making time to move can do wonders for all areas of your health and wellness. “Several people have told me how critical yoga has been for them [and] a number of people that I've coached and interviewed have reported feeling really motivated by those sort of organized exercise classes that are available right now.” Feel like there isn’t enough time? Try starting small to fit wellness habits like exercise into your schedule.
Be clear on what matters.
Randy Liss shared that asking yourself what really matters both at work and at home can make things a bit easier for yourself and others. “Professionally, it’s really being mindful of the true deadlines, cutting out some the clutter, understanding others’ workloads, and trying to create a work environment at home that is conducive to what worked in an office environment. Similarly, on the personal side, it's about understanding what's important—what really matters and what doesn't matter.”
Lean into your circles of support.
“I think finding support in one another, from leaders, for sure—but also just one another—has been something that has been helpful for folks,” added Kristen Mathews. “A few people that I talked to mentioned just having the support of working parent groups at work, or even just friends at work, who can relate and share the experience has been really helpful.”
Don’t be afraid to take opportunities to unplug.
Clients have shared with Kristen that, even though it is tough, taking the opportunity to rest can give you the energy to be more effective in your professional and personal life. “Someone I spoke with shared [that] before she took vacation, she felt like everything is terrible. After a week away, even though it wasn't a luxurious vacation, just stepping away for a bit helped her to regroup. She felt like she was restarting.”
To hear more from Kristen, Kara, and Randy, you can also listen to our recent episode below.