I am so excited about this piece! I’ve wanted for so long to find someone like Jamie Krenn to address these issues and questions for those of us who work at home, because no matter what type of parent you are- it is overwhelming to mix anything with caring for small children. We all need to know about what this wonderful, resourceful woman has to say about how to juggle the schedule of emotions within parenthood and work. Join Jamie Krenn at CoHatchery in Park Slope for a workshop this Friday, August 26th, from 4:30-6pm about working from home, more productively. Here’s a helpful Q&A, enjoy!
~Rebecca Conroy, Editor of A Child Grows in Brooklyn
Tell us what you would like first-time mothers, and those who are about to have more than one child to know about “juggling” their schedules/expectations?
Feel free to freak out at first because parenting and working is your homemade version of “learning by doing” practice in cognitive science (meaning you have to think about your thinking processes and think how you will have time to think!). After you have that out of your system, understand that there are many variables now in your life besides work, spouse, and self-care. Saying “you aren’t alone” to a working parent does not help anyone in the moment (it never helped me), but saying that we are similar and that everything can be managed eventually does provide some solace. It is important to understand that you now exist professionally with child, and that has a learning curve. You are readjusting when you complete work and the kind of time you need to allot to provide the quality work that can make you happy. Most people forget about the quality of work time vs. time to get it done. Thinking about projects that need quality vs. checking things off a list can help you prioritize when you need “focused” time vs. time working on things while kids are playing or occupying themselves.
What are some secrets that you can impart upon our readers?
Don’t feel guilty about using technology.
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has loosened their restrictions on screen time
a bit on a case by case basis. If you have some favorite games on a mobile device for your child, have them play short spurts. Don’t use a mobile device the entire day as tempting as it may be. Going to work with a parent can also be a great opportunity for your child to practice patience and autonomous play without the crutch of technology.
Be present and focused as best you can to both audiences: your kid vs. coworkers, clients, students, etc. Teach your child effective ways of getting your attention. Encourage “excuse me.” That way, they know you heard/saw them, and will get to them as soon as you can.
Before a “work from home” workday, prepare independent play activities.
It may be as simple as bringing out a small blanket or mat with arranged toys, coloring books and the like around near where you work or in your office. Creating a small play area on the floor will let your child feel welcome, part of the environment and provide them a “space of their own.” Co-Working plus care also fosters independent play, and you can be there to help you, kids, as you need to while you answer emails or begin a report draft. Work of this type is what I call “Divided Attention Work.” Divided Attention Work is done with what I also refer to as “ping-pong focus,” – tasks you can quickly pick-up and begin again. Client calls or quality work/reports may need early or late hour work time as this is not the co-working moment to engage in them.
For those mothers who need to find more “mom suitable work,” It can seem daunting and overwhelming for mothers to look for new and different jobs when they have new/small children to care for. How much time at night can a woman realistically spend working on a resume and applying for jobs? How much sleep does a person need? These are all questions we ask ourselves and would love a professional’s opinion about.
I think you need at least one hour carved out per day to focus on resume building, over the course of one week. This sounds small. However, I find that low expectations get surpassed easily, because when you are in the zone and enjoying making real progress, you always hit your deadlines early – then you boost your self-worth. “Score! I got that done early, YESSS!”
Sleep: A person (in my mind) needs at least eight hours of sleep with thirty minutes prior, of wind-down time. Going right to bed from your laptop is a receipt for unworked out problems and tasks in your head that eventually invade your dreams and harm the possibility of quality rest. I make that my goal most nights – but am guilty of working late during finals time (grading papers and such, or writing script notes for kids’ television shows). There are days when this doesn’t happen. But, if you follow an 80/20 rule of devoting time to sleep vs. late nights, you should have happier days.
Postpartum Depression: a huge issue for so many, whether they actively know it or not. What can women do on a daily basis to ease their way through feelings of doubt and anxiety?
See my article
). Working out saved my sanity, and self-esteem. No matter how unathletic you are, find something to move your body and get your blood flowing. It can only elevate your mood and make your home a happier place for all. Get the stroller out, go for a walk, have your spouse take the kids for 20 minutes. Anything!
Don’t be afraid to take meds and/or go into therapy. I did it myself for a while, and while on paper I look like I have everything together- at some moments in my life, I didn’t. Kids’ schedules and developmental phases don’t align with our occupations; it is a constant trajectory of flux. That can lead to a sense of feeling overwhelmed and out of control. There is no shame in asking for help, or admitting that you can’t do everything, because most people can’t be super-human.
Play dates with friends that have children (or don’t have children) are helpful ways to care for your kids and talk to your pals. Change of environment is always helpful for the mood.
Do you know of any practical resources for mothers that would help them? Links, companies, exercises, etc.?
Our Company’s Blog
for helpful notes, suggestions and information about the co-working + care culture.
Common Sense Media
– for screen time questions regarding technology based on developmental levels.
A NYC company that provides quality childcare in your home as you need it. They have an amazing recruiting process that provides comfort to parents in seeking childcare with happy, reliable and invested staff. We have used their A+ staff, and while you would like to work out of the home, sometimes we need help within our own walls, no matter the hour.
Jamie Krenn is the Chief Learning Officer at CoHatchery, a coworking space community that provides parents a unique opportunity for work-life integration and balance. Jamie holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: Cognitive Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds three Masters degrees in developmental and cognitive psychologies as well as a Bachelor of Science in Art Therapy. Jamie also leads the “Children & Media: Analysis & Evaluation” area of focus at Teachers College, Columbia University, which focuses on research and theories relevant to learning and the development of educational materials for children. She is also a Media and Curriculum Consultant for Maker Studios (overseen by Walt Disney Studios) for the YouTube program, Wonder Quest by Stampy Cat as well as a regular blogger at Psychology Today Magazine. Her research interest includes cognitive media processing, creative preschool curriculum preparation, and culinary cognition.