Once upon a time in Cluj, I was a young part-time translator (I still am, both young and part-time ?), working long hours and planning my activity depending on my job and sleeping hours. Now, 12 years later, I am a mom of two small children (a five-year-old and an eleven month-old) working from home in this period of confinement.
It has been three long months since we barely got out of the house (at the beginning because of medical issues). In this period, I had projects to finish and a conference to organize together with Tomi, Elvira and our lovely friends from the organizing team.
Is it possible to keep up with deadlines while the children want something from you every five minutes? Can we stay sane in this period?
Honestly, I don’t know. However, we can have a brainstorming session to find solutions. Let me go first….
Let go of your high standards (not the quality standards of course)
The laundry has been in the dry machine for three days, you haven’t cooked anything for today, you have a deadline tomorrow, and you still have the English assignment to do with your kid…
I am a perfectionist, (or at least I was until five years ago), but I learned from Elsa to “let it go, let it go” (I sure hope my mom will not read this). I prefer to focus on the important and urgent things. Yep, the house is a mess, but I managed to keep us alive, haven’t I?
Rethink your workload
If two months ago you could translate/review or whatever you are doing for 6-8 hours a day, now you have to accept that with the kids around it’s nearly impossible. Don’t fight it! Just rethink your workload and the deadlines so you can stay sane.
Establish a work schedule?
Well… I don’t know about that. I tried to but failed almost every time. So, instead of being frustrated, you couldn’t work from 8 to 10 AM, just establish a number of working hours per day and try to hold on to it. Find moments of silence when the children are asleep or are playing with something interesting that keeps them busy for longer periods (which can be up to 30 minutes if you are lucky).
If you are desperate to finish something (like I was a month ago), you can work in the night, but don’t do that often and for more than two nights in a row. You will transform into a dragon (not that cute purple one)!
Connect with your children
Children need our attention. And it seems they need us precisely at the moment we are in a crucial conference call with our client, or when we are 10 minutes away from sending that important e-mail. Be sure to fragment your working time to connect with them. You can take a break once every half an hour to read a short story, to dance a “Monkey dance” or to sit down on the carpet with them.
Expressing the time
Young children don’t have the notion of time. If you say “I’ll be there in 5 minutes, go and wait for me”, be sure that you respect it. If your 5 minutes are in fact 20, the next time you will ask them to leave you alone for just 5 more minutes to finish your work they will know it will take longer, and will not accept it.
Instead of saying abstract things to them (like 5 minutes), you can be more concrete, so they can understand better: “Please let me work 5 more minutes, until the minute hand of the clock is on 7”, or “I need to finish this page until you finish your Lego construction”.
Tell them precisely what you are doing
My oldest is very curious and talkative (I wonder where he got that from), and he gets excited when I explain to him what I am doing, for whom, how I am doing it and how long that will take. Children love to be involved! If they know details about your work, they will understand better why it is essential.
I often let him help me “translate” a page on his “computer”. It’s funny to see him imitating me. Today he was “translating this super-secret document from Hungarian into Romanian because Dr ABC has to send it to a big medical journal”… I wish I could translate from Hungarian too…
When you do find a quiet time to work, try to stay away from distractions. (I was sure that the Netflix thing won’t be any good for my projects ?).
You can do it! We can do it together!
Yes, I know, you have mouths to feed, clients cannot wait for the stars to be aligned in your home so you can deliver the project in time. Easy to say, hard to do… But….
You are strong, you deserve the best clients and the best rates! You will make it! It won’t be easy, but we have to stay strong for our children.
In Romania, the schools, kindergartens and nurseries are closed until September. When September mornings come, our houses will seem so empty, so quiet, and we will have that 6-8 hours for our projects again.