If you’re working from home and school is starting back for your children your boss may be unaware of everything you’re facing at the moment. Some bosses are so removed from what modern parenting looks like or are used to you being available at all times of the day and may not think to ask you about what you need when school starts back again. There are new concerns this year like your child completing distance learning or going into school with social distance precautions, so you’ll need to talk to your boss.
They may know that you are a working mom and may know that you have responsibilities outside of work, but they may not know what your day to day looks like. We are stressing about our children having to complete distance learning, trying to keep our children engaged in school while staring at a screen all day, keeping the little ones quiet during meetings, feeding them morning, noon, and night, and still keeping our sanity while working and living at home in one space.
If you haven’t let talked to your boss, colleagues, or work friends about what your new situation is going to look like, here’s where to start.
Figure out what you need
Before you can explain your situation or let others know what you are dealing with, take some time to figure out what you might need. This may look like flexible hours so that you can work before and after school time. You might need to work on a different assignment and rearrange your priorities because of your home situation. Or perhaps, you just need some different supplies and resources to get your job done – whatever you need, figure this out first so that you aren’t stumbling when you are asked how they can help while you talk to your boss.
Take a look at what your job has available
I never suggest going to your boss with a problem, but not looking for or offering a solution at the same time. If you look through your job’s offerings and find out they have therapists available or extra leave hours, you can mention this during the discussion to assure your boss that the overall organization is supportive of what you may need or ask for.
Communicate but don’t sugar coat
Here’s the time where you will share what is going on and what your boss can expect from you during this temporary situation. When speaking to my supervisor I wrote an email and then scheduled a follow up meeting. I do not hide from the fact that I am a working mother and that my children will be at home and may need me during the day because of this pandemic. I brought up the following points (feel free to swipe this text if you need to!):
- I have 2 young sons at home, while I will do my best to adhere to my normal work hours, I may need to work an hour earlier or 1-2 hours in the evening to make up time that I have to use caring for my children. My preschooler is in class in the mornings, but the afternoons are good times to reach me and I will be sure to check in during that time.
In my follow up meeting I asked my supervisor for flexible hours and the option to use extended leave during days where I just had to step away to tend to family care. We settled on using up to 10 hours a week of extended leave and a flexible schedule. At least, now, my supervisor knows that I will check in throughout the day and before I log off to make sure I don’t miss anything. She knows that she can message me and if I am not there immediately, I will still respond that day. Again, stay in communication when you talk to your boss.
Don’t be hard on yourself
During this time you might not get as much done around the house as you usually do. You might not be able to finish the book you’ve been trying to read, or get the perfectly healthy and balanced meals that you expect to serve your family. It’s ok, mama! Something may have to fall off of your plate and as long as you are prioritizing what is important you are doing fine. This communication method of addressing everything up front will give you some room to breathe if everything doesn’t go as planned.