Sharing the Load: Fostering Teamwork in the Home During a Pandemic
Your entire family is suddenly spending the entire day at home. There’s no traveling to work. There’s no school. Heck, there’s not even errands for the most part since you’re working hard to limit the amount of times you go to the supermarket every month.
But you somehow feel like the burden of all this social distancing has fallen square on your shoulders. First, you’re working from home — or at least you’re trying to. It would be easy if adjusting from life in the office to working at your dining room table was your only issue.
But, if you’re like many other traditional families trying to survive this pandemic, your spouse also needs table space to complete their work, and your children are vying for your time and attention all day long. It feels like you’re their new teacher, and when you’re not walking them through their lesson plans, you’re refereeing their arguments and passing out snacks.
What about the state of your home?
Are you the one doing all of the cooking and cleaning? Is it your job to make sure the counters are disinfected, and the doorknobs are wiped down? There shouldn’t be one person responsible for taking care of the home — and the people in it.
In normal times, it’s important to get the entire family involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of the home. During a pandemic…well, it’s even more vital.
We caught up with Kendra Hennessy, owner of the Mother Like a Boss company and podcast, to find out how families can come together to share the load and foster teamwork at home during one of the most trying times of our lives. Here’s what she has to say.
1. Involve Your Family
The first step is to call a family meeting. Here’s where you bring together your spouse and children and let them know they’re now your teammates, and you need them to help out.
Hennessy says, “What better time to band together as a team than now when our families are home together?” She continues, “It’s important to create a culture in the home where our children feel safe, valuable, and validated. By including everyone and giving them responsibility, it helps your children feel like they have power and control in a time when they don’t have any.” The same goes for adults, too.
And don’t underestimate your children’s involvement. If you can show older children how to do the chores that need completing in your home — they can follow through.
And don’t forget about your youngest children. There’s so much they can do to help, and they’ll feel rewarded by playing an important role in your household.
“Think about what your children’s classrooms are like,” says Hennessy. “Everyone has a job. It fosters community. It helps children to understand the importance of every single job, and it also gives the children the sense of validation.” Model their classroom experience of having responsibility right in your own home.
2. Lower Your Expectations
Handing over control may be difficult, but now isn’t the time to expect perfection in your home. There’s a lot happening there! It’s time to let your spouse and children (or your non-familial roommates) help you clean, organize…and disinfect. The end results might not be exactly at the caliber you are used to, but the responsibility isn’t all yours.
Hennessy says, “It’s about both embracing teamwork and releasing control.”
3. Create New Routines
If you had a set cleaning schedule before this pandemic hit, you can’t expect to continue it now while you’re practicing social distancing, especially if you’re working at home, too. Instead of schedules, consider trying to implement light routines, in which ever way best works for your family.
“The reason so many of us feel like we’re drowning right now is because our routines are so out of whack,” says Hennessy. “But we can gain some control back by realizing that there are times throughout the day that you can anchor your routines to.” She continues, “Try setting a really good morning and evening routine. What are some things you can do during these times to set yourself and your family up for success?”
Not sure where to start? Some examples may include clearing clutter after dinner so that the house is generally clean in the mornings. Taking time in the morning to create a checklist of what needs to be done today will set everyone up to be productive.
4. Share the Load
One of the easiest ways to involve your family in taking over some responsibility is giving them the tasks they actually enjoy doing. Start by creating a master list of everything that needs to be done in your home. Make note of how often everything needs to be completed. Then, ask your family members to volunteer for the jobs they prefer.
Not sure where to start with the duties no one else picked? Hennessy shares an idea:
“What’s been working for a lot of my clients is the Post-It note approach. Each day, write down what needs to be done on Post-It notes, and throughout the day, everyone chooses what to do. So, for example, you could say, there are 20 tasks and five people, so each of us need to accomplish four tasks before 5 p.m.”
Times have changed, and we’re all trying to find a way to manage our lives through this crisis. By offloading some of your responsibilities, you’re giving yourself the space, and allowing your family to step up when you need them most.