Going crazy balancing work and children at home in this surreal situation of isolation while there is a virus on the loose outside?
The internet is filled with smart advice on how to use this time to learn a new skill, adopt a healthier lifestyle, read a lot, appreciate life…But then, there are those of us with young children who are slowly going insane trying to replace both their peers and their educators. Many of us doing so while we are working at our paid jobs as well. The internet has many helpful tips on that too – but who has the time and energy to do all that reading after a non-stop day switching from work to kids and back again, all the while feeling guilty about both? These are all brand-new challenges, at least at a brand-new scale and everybody – including me – is too exhausted to appreciate all the advertised “zen-ness” about appreciating time with the family more and finding new ways to approach work. And yet, approaching work differently and including our kids is what we do at Sandburg: Imagine if you could work in an environment as comfy as your own home and as equipped as your office. Imagine that you could share meals and special moments with your child while getting as much work done as you do when you go into work… Just before the crisis hit, we successfully conducted the Sandburg proof of concept. On three Friday mornings in January and February 2020, five parents with one under-three-year old child each participated in our experiment to prove that childcare and working parents in the same room without separation works. Before our proof of concept, the most frequently voiced concerns from both potential Sandburg-workers and – partners were:
- “no one can concentrate with all that background noise”
- “the kids will never separate from mummy/daddy if they are right there in the same room”
- “productivity levels will decrease; the parents will be too distracted to work efficiently”
Well, we can now proudly announce: Wrong, wrong and wrong! More specifically:
- It was not any louder than in any other co-working space, mostly because the kids felt safe and secure which translated into no crying. Our proof of concept happened in a room that was NOT a fully equipped Sandburg, meaning it did not even have the sound-attenuating features an operational Sandburg would have!
- A quote by our early-childhood-educator about her experience working with the kids in the proof of concept says it all: “The children turned away from their parents and towards the activities I offered voluntarily and without any effort necessary on my part – it was liberating really, so much easier than my experiences with the assimilation phase in daycare, when parents are stressed because they need to leave for work and the children can feel something is off and they are anxious and clingy because of it.”
- One of the parents summed it up: “I was able to work more productively as I was significantly less stressed with my baby right there, I could see that he was cared for and well rather than having to trust that this is happening somewhere out of my sight”
The consensus was that this type of environment was happier and gentler for everyone involved and thus enabling concentrated productive work without fear of missing out and that constant, nagging guilt we as working parents have grown accustomed to. We hope that everyone will come out of this global crisis having re-thought the sustainability of what we did pre-COVID 19. Because all it takes is a tiny, little thing we can’t even see to derail everything we thought works within a few short weeks. Scary on the one hand, a great opportunity on the other. Join me in thinking of this as an opportunity, even if you are – like me – not always “zen” about your current situation!