As we hit the midway mark of the lockdown, PRmoment India finds out how PR professionals are striking a balance between being a parent and working from home.
Mrigopriya Tamuli, co-founder of Script PR admits that "The last 2 weeks for people with toddlers under 4 at home have been extremely challenging. Initially, I tried doing everything like it was being done before cleaning, dusting, cooking 3 meals a day and ended up with physical and mental exhaustion."
Tamuli adds, "Eventually, I realized this is not the time to focus on perfection, its a question of managing home, work while holding on to your sanity. Now, both my husband and I have chalked out a routine, we have our list of assigned duties and time to babysit, which gives us both time to focus on our work and have some time for ourselves. This has made a huge difference to all our general wellbeing."
Shobha Vasudevan, ISG Communications & PR, Dell Technologies India says, "Being a parent is always like being a juggler. You will have a few balls up in the air at any point of time and you may also drop a few which is ok! My organization gives me the flexibility to manage my time and priorities."
Vasudevan adds, "In the current lockdown scenario, we have a weekly schedule of tasks divided amongst all family members including my son. As a parent, my first priority was to ensure that there is no panic because of the amount of information my son receives from all kinds of media. We stressed the need for washing hands, staying indoors and made helping out at home into a fun activity which he is enjoying. My workday is busy with calls and online
meetings which I schedule in a way that I get complete privacy for that time. Anyway, people around the world are in the same situation so they understand if there a child talking in the background or a doorbell or a pet.. it adds some laughs in an otherwise serious time."
Amandeep Arora, lead- special projects, Paisabazaar.com, says, "Being a single parent, it becomes challenging to engage my kid for a whole day. It was not that easy but not impossible to make my 6-year-old understand that I am not on holiday and I have to work from Monday to Friday. Whenever I am taking a break, I spend some time with him whether having lunch together or playing cricket for 5-10 minutes. It’s like, I have made a barter deal with him. If he will let me work, I will play with him."
Komal Tomke, general manager - marketing at IceWarp Technologies shares her story saying, "As the only parent at the moment, since his father is not with us and could not travel back due to lockdown, it gets all the more difficult as ours is a 17 months old toddler, it's just me and my mom taking care."
Tomke handles the situation by starting her day as early as possible, " At 7 AM (while my baby is asleep.) Since I take care of marketing activities and am working in an email and solution provider IT company, we are always on toes these days planning, strategizing campaigns, announcing the solutions which help in remote working, so I complete all my pending emails and PPT's. It gets difficult when he is awake and we are having our web-meetings as he always demands my attention, wants to sit on my lap, snatch my mouse or just press any key on the laptop. To overcome this, I have started making him join our meetings he greets everyone, gets interactive with the team this lets me conclude the meeting without any hassle."
Kanika Abichandani, Consultant-Digital Media & Strategy, Turiya Communications says, "Just like any other working parent, I was also struggling for the initial few days. Post that, I started following these: Creating a schedule. Communicating more than usual with my colleagues or my husband. Working with breaks so that I can attend to my little son. With these, it is not so difficult to handle work from home as a parent of a four-year-old kid."
Tilak Chowdhury, head communications – Egis India, says he is loving the four hours of daily commute working from home has saved him.
While at home his motto is "Live and let live. There is usually a home routine established which is on autopilot. We must try our best not to interrupt or disrupt it. And try to support it by adjusting your time accordingly. For example, I normally have an early breakfast. So instead of waking everyone up early, I try to have my cereals on my own before everyone else and then join the others with a cup of tea. The same goes for lunch and other meals. Also, since the support staff like maids are on leave just like us, try and manage with minimum fuss for food and other essentials."
Chowdhury's favourite cheerleader at home? He says, "The cheerleader in our home is definitely our daughter. She is the one who doubles up as our DJ playing Allan Walker songs which are her favourite and also playing the movies on Netflix. She is the one who in-between comes up with games like chess and UNO that everyone has to play and it becomes like a quick break from work."
Nabanita Ghosh –manager, brand communication, PRHUB shared her experience of working from home saying she starts her day, "By wrapping up all-important household chores in 1-2 hours before my daily office hours begin."
Ghosh also says her saviour has been good time management skills, "Plan your day. prepare a to-do list for office work and household work separately every day in the order of priority. Delegate certain tasks (household) to your partner as well to ease the burden."
Ghosh also believes that "The new generation is relatively smarter, self-independent in nature and fast learner. Even at a mere age of 4 years, my daughter, makes sure that she keeps all her stuff, toys in place, eat by herself, does her homework on time, which am sure most of us never did or even if, was after multiple episodes of scolding. here have been times when she had come with a bottle of water assuming mom would be thirsty. Clearly, my daughter is my favourite cheerleader!"
Shalini Gunashekar, account director, On Purpose says that " The last two weeks went by dealing with not just a new work environment, but also dealing with a sudden new routine for my 6-year-old son being at home and my one and a half-year-old daughter and everything else happening around us. My way of handling work commitment in the current scenario is to follow my earlier routine as much as possible on a daily basis and be disciplined with it which helps in giving dedicated time and effort towards work during work hours consistently. Of course, this has been possible given I continue to have the support system at home to take care of my kids while I am away in my study, working and especially with my kids being very supportive as well."
Work from home management tips
Gunashekar's solution to managing work and home is to involve her older child in simple tasks. She also recommends, " Taking short breaks every two hours and spend time with your kids. If possible make a small snack for them (It's summer holidays after all!) play with them for a quick 10 mins and head back"
Taarika Prabhu, group account head, Perfect Relations, shares her working from home
routine, "So, I try and do all my work before 10 am then play with them for some time till 12. Once they sleep off by 1 I again get back to work till 4 pm continuously which helps cover most of the day's job. Then again play with them from say, 4-6 and do the remaining left work from 6-7."
Vasudevan shares her top working from home tip saying, "I like to chalk out my to-do list/ schedule a day prior, ideally before I sleep. This helps me align my energies better, making it possible for me to give quality time to my work, as well as fulfil my duty as a mother. Hence, my advice to all the working parents is to ‘Have a Plan, Everyday’."
To handle children better, Arora says," Have some innovative ideas where the children are learning while playing or doing any activity. They should not feel bored the whole day. Like, I have found innovative yoga postures for my son to practice. Have developed a habit for him to read books. The idea was to make him independent at this time."
Shirley C Dsilva, corporate communications professional advise is, "Cook first - work later and Keep your to-do list ready at the start of the day - prioritize - not everything is urgent to be done on the same day."