What an absolutely crazy time we are currently in. Places around the world are going into lockdown. It feels to me like the crazy version of “national lampoon's terrifying corona vacation”.
Hi, Nicola here from My Inner Creative, as a single mom, and a passionate planner and as a working mom, I thought, “Yeah - I got this”.....NO I DIDN’T! Well I do. But I also don’t. And Ill explain more as we go along, but know that this is an ever changing landscape we might not have been prepared for.
Now before we get started you can grab a free printable of my calendar here
I thought I would prepare for isolation weeks in advance
I could see this was coming, New Zealand is a small country of only 4.7million people, tons of tourism. My son, who is 7, got the snuffles, and by this point it was “socially unacceptable” to send him to school, usually I would have been fine to do that, a snuffle is what all kids pass around multiple times a year. BUT! We stayed home, responsibly, and decided to test run how this was going to work if we needed to lock down, and I am so grateful I did.
What did I do in my “trial-run” of lockdown?
I stocked up on LEGO, we purged unwanted toys and donated them, we spring cleaned the house and prepared for a cleaner house so clutter wouldn't be an issue.
I then took my time working out what I needed for work, I set up both my work laptop and personal computer to be able to do all the things I needed to keep me running.
The next couple of things I did was bookmark a ton of learning resources, like study ladder, go noodle and some other goodies that I thought he might like. Now this obviously would be age dependent but at the end of the day it's about what your child likes.
I knew that while we would be stuck at home with ample opportunity to cook dinners, there might be nights where I don’t feel like cooking, for these I decided to precook some fun meals and freeze them - kinda like pre-ordered take away meals!
How did I plan out my work at home + kids schedule?
This was a case of trial and error. I has seen a couple schedules flying around on the internet but wasn’t sure how I would manage those because they seemed really intense and didnt really account for mum working.
Now! Knowing that I have a young boy, exercise and energy burning is critical to this working, or my house will feel like prison with a tiger in it! I knew I had to put in activity time, and once implemented I changed this a little and while and I explained why below.
The other thing that was crucial to this was communication with work. Many of us have kids and this “new norm” was a challenge for many. So here is what I did to make sure work knew when I was available:
- I blocked out time in my online calendar
- I added my most accessible hours to my email signature.
- I joined all the online platforms we were running through work to easily communicate with each other, we've been using things like Zoom, and Slack, and Trello.
How did I physically plan out the time?
I kept it as easy as possible for myself. I didn’t want to overload myself with the stress of having to plan this out. So kept it simple.
A list of things I needed to do, a list of things my son needed to do and then things between that we could do together. I started with a blank piece of paper, I listed what we both needed.
Then I jotted down the times I thought this might take and how this might look on a day to day basis, starting simply with wake up and bedtime. I explain the change to schedule below and why I moved my schedule to sticky notes and I moved them to Reusable sticky notes.
Using my planner to support/ supplement my “fridge plans”
This has been a weird time for my relationship with my planner. Everything seems to either be cancelled or rescheduled or online. This has made for quite the tricky work balance too. So I have kept the schedule pretty broad so that the time I have for “work” can be defined by my usual planner and I can stick to some sort of normalcy in my planner.
What I learnt from my first few days and what I changed
The first thing I learnt was that - planning for this was the best thing I could have done.
The second thing I learnt was that old adage of:
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. This is a passage from the poem To a Mouse, written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1786.
So what did I not plan for? Well the first thing was that EVERYONE would be in chaos not just me, so while I had planned for this, I wasn't really prepared for the panic i felt when going to the store or talking to my colleagues about what was going on.
I also learnt that that at 7, school involves a lot of play time and that I had not accounted for how much play time that actually was. On day 2 my son was restless, filled with energy and just wanted to play all the time. SO! I bought a skipping rope and some outdoor games, like lawn tennis, horseshoe games etc.
The other thing I have learnt is that my noise cancelling headphones have gotten a lot of work done
I originally printed out the schedule and laminated it to make it a makeshift fridge white board. Lesson learnt, put everything on sticky notes and move those around instead because in the current situation plans change faster than what we can control, so to save my sanity and printer, I moved the schedule to post it notes on the fridge.
The most important thing I have learnt however is not to be too rigid with my time and schedule right now. It is OK to be a little chaotic and it is OK to not stick to the schedule.
Watch how I set up my schedule below!