How to cope with working and being a mom during Covid 19 lockdown

How to cope with working and being a mom during Covid 19 lockdown

“If you love yourself, STAY AT HOME, keep the virus out.”

Anonymous

 Being a South African at the moment is tough.  We are outside, braai and socializing people. Now with the rise of the Coronavirus in South Africa, our president took the very brave step and put the whole of South Africa under lockdown for 21 days.  At first many thought “holiday, fun, braai and so much more”, not realizing what lockdown meant. Not even dog walking or jogging is allowed, and you are only allowed to leave your home for essential services or to buy food.  Schools closed earlier than usual and will be closed until further notice.  Being a VA, mean  that work still needs to continue, but now I have to entertain a 6 year old, 3year old and 2year old……… for 21 days.  I googled everything for 2 days, from not getting depression under lockdown, to school activities for kids, to keeping your family life as stable as possible.  And even now a few days later, still more WhatsApp’s, Ideas etc. are doing the rounds to make our “new” norm as normal as possible.  For me the following tips helped to keep me focussed and proactive as VA:

 

WORKING WEIRD HOURS

  • Inform your clients that you are moving your time table around to accommodate your kids, and that you will focus on certain projects during different times than usual.
  • Every reasonable person on earth is aware of this epidemic, be reasonable, positive and gracious when hard decisions and issues need to be handled.
  • Set up your “office” so that you can be with your kids and work. For me this personally meant doing most of my work on my mobile, and moving the rest out to when I have time to sit in front of my PC.  Personally this freed up a lot of time while being with the kids.

 

CREATING STABILITY

(Please note this is how I have done it the last couple of days, but you can change it as fitting to your situation.  The most important is to keep doing what works for you and your family.)

  • Stability is created by a healthy routine
    • Wake Up, drink your java, put on clothes (it is important not to stay in your pj’s the whole day) and do some work.
    • When the kids wake up, make them breakfast, do a “school activity, craft and arts, read them a story”, and let them play for 30 minutes outside to catch some rays. Vitamin D is important for staying positive. Remember staying healthy and social distancing is the important during this epidemic.  If you do go outside while staying in a flat, draw crayon lines on the floor in which areas everyone are allowed to stay in.  Now jump on your phone and start working. This time is usually great if you have to keep up with your social media and networking.  If you have lost clients or have a loss of income, now is the time to search for new opportunities.
    • Prepare lunch, and involve the kids. Usually they enjoy to eat what they help made.
    • After lunch, let them have their 30min screen time. I hope for your sake a nap follows.  Usually mine sleep between one to two hours.  During nap time I check my emails and see if any new projects or urgent messages need to be handled.
    • When everyone is a wake normally a fruit or yogurt are enjoyed, and then it is “active time”. Their brains were stimulated during the morning, now we need to get the legs moving.  Find a fun kids yoga session online and join in.  This is relaxing for young and old, followed up with exercising with anything heavy.  A butternut for kid’s weights, onion bag for adult weights, jumping rope, short sprints and many more.  You can jump online and get x100 ideas.
    • And lastly you can make dinner. Let the kids have a bath on their own while you sit and relax with glass of wine, coffee, tea or cold drink.
    • Let them have some screen time again if needed. And now you can jump on the rest of the work not yet done.  Personally for me, I do the work that takes less thinking as the day is more tiring while looking after kids and working. That being said, as Coronavirus takes over work is also getting less.  I do not need to work after 22:00 anymore, a luxury at this moment.
    • Remember you made it through today, tomorrow you can do it again.

 

STAYING HEALTHY MENTALLY

  • Prioritize your kids’ needs before your own.
    • Remember kids are part of the vulnerable list and can get sick easily, please stay at home to keep the virus out.
    • This is a strange time for them also. Do not show them you are tired or scared.  Keep going, this lockdown will not last forever.
    • Use technology such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype and FaceTime for children to keep in contact with grandparents, maternal parents, family and friends.

 

  • Prioritize your relationship
    • Lockdown can bring your relationship issues into sharp focus if both of you are confined at home. Now you have to talk, listen and be in each other’s personal space.  Stay positive and always talk with respect.
    • Make time for each other especially if you have children. When they have screen time, try to sit with each other and talk about what is worrying you, how to overcome your fears, and plan for the future.
    • If your relationship is rocky try to find online help, podcasts, seminars etc. Now you have the time to work on the problems.
    • Lastly if you are in an abusive relationship, please go online and find help for your sake and that of your children. You will be seen as venerable and can be removed.

 

I am not a psychologist or remotely knows what it takes to run a country under lockdown.  But I do know this lockdown did make me appreciate the small blessings I usually take for granted.  Things like going to the shop, dropping kids at school, visiting friends and family, walking outside or having small talk with neighbours; made me realise we as humans chase after the next day, often missing today.  I hope I can keep some of my own tips going in the future when our reality changes to post lockdown again.  Maybe being a VA prepared me in some why for the lockdown, as I have been doing all the above, just without the kids around 24/7. Stay healthy mentally and physically. And remember being with family during this time is special, we may never have this solitude again.

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp from Pexels

 

How to find your happy place at home

How to find your happy place at home

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that we are all facing at present I thought that it would be very appropriate to encourage everyone to find that place that you can call your happy place.

Do you have a happy place? A physical place that you can retreat to that grounds you and makes you feel peaceful and find balance. Finding your happy place sounds cliché, I know, but everyone has at least one. A happy place is a serine place that puts positive thoughts in your mind and a smile on your face. This is where we can be our true selves allowing ourselves to be present, casting aside grudges of the past and pausing our worries for the future.

 

Recharge your batteries

Everyone needs a place they can go to where they can step out of daily life and just relax. All of us need a place to recharge our batteries, where we feel safe and where we can do things that bring us joy. We all have that one place our mind immediately goes to when we imagine a safe and comfortable environment. It’s important to remember that your happy place mustn’t be something that uses up your energy,

I have a love affair with the beach.  There is something about looking out over the beautiful endless ocean, feeling the sand beneath my feet, and smelling that fresh salty air.  It never disappoints, rather it is always there to soothe my soul and dissipate my worries.  With each wave that rolls in, comes calm and loving energy. It is definitely my happy place.

When finding a happy place, you need to have an open-mind and be willing to try new things. It is always good to experience new things alone. You will know if the place or activity you are doing brings you peace of mind and become stress-free.

 

How it benefits you

A happy place gives you the chance to be in your own little world, feel happy and de-stress. Whether it be with a good book, a movie, a meal, exercising or at a relaxing spot. You get to find out what really makes you happy and how beneficial it is in your life. A happy place can get you out of a bad mood or a bad state of mind.

 

Creating Your Happy Place

  1. What kind of environments are you most drawn to?
  2. Where do you feel most energized and alive?
  3. Where do you feel most calm and at peace?
  4. It’s somewhere you feel safe.
  5. It has things in it you enjoy.
  6. It has privacy.
  7. You literally look forward to being there.
  8. You feel peace and joy in it.
  9. Take a few minutes to jot down a list of the places that always brings you the most pleasure.
  10. It could even be that your happy place isn’t physically real, but a mental place you can go to when you need to.

I hope that these 10 tips help you find your happy place.

 

Conclusion

If you don’t have a happy place, dealing with your stress and isolation during these very trying times will probably be much harder. Stay Safe!

5 Books you have to read in 2020

5 Books you have to read in 2020

Welcome to 2020. And welcome to the year that I start to pick up a book and read again! How about you?

Did you know that thoughts are nutrition for the brain? So it would make sense to feed your thoughts with only the most inspirational, motivational and valuable information as possible right? And that is why reading a good, thought provoking or information rich book is so important.

Now, knowing this I went on the search to find some of the top reads for you (and me) to indulge in this year. Whether you are just on a journey of enlightenment or you are a business owner needing the motivation to stay on track and to be the most successful at whatever it is you choose to do, there is sure to be something out there that will tickle your fancy.

Before I dive into that thought let me summarise what, for me, makes a good read:

  1. A great opening line or three. Something that immediately gets my attention and makes me want to read more because I know that yes, I am going to be a changed person at the end of this book.
  2. Not just any information though, relevant information. Information which I can relate to and that is relevant to the title and description of the book.
  3. A great take away that I can put into practice easily and that gives some sort of reward
  4. And lastly – it must make me want to refer it to someone and make me want to read it again at some point

Right, now that I have that out the way – let us get to the list and where you can find it.

 

My pick of 5 books:

Just to be clear, this is merely my suggestion from the plethora of books I found listed. These are the ones which caught my eye and made we take notice. Perhaps you have seen others that speak to you more – that’s awesome!

  1. Girl Stop Apologizing – by Rachel Hollis – If you fear taking on new challenges or taking the steps to do new things because you do not want to fail or be embarrassed, then this book is for you. Great read!
  2. Manage your Money like a F*cking Grownup – by Sam Beckbessinger – I just loved the name of this one really. But in all seriousness, I think the key to success and wealth and just balance overall is learning to manage everything, and especially when it comes to money.
  3. The Power Of Positive Thinking – by Norman Vincent Peale – This one speaks for itself and is one I have actually read. The mind is a powerful thing and when we can tune it to be on a positive frequency all the time, oh wow, amazing things will happen for you. Things you can only imagine. Get this book if you are in a slump and need some motivation and a mind shift.
  4. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan – The whole premise of this book really caught my attention and is on my list of must reads this year. I also asked myself, “What is the one that if done right can make everything else in my life easier?” I have not come up with an answer as yet but I am guessing that by reading the book, it will help me on my path of discovery.
  5. The Disruption Mindset – by Charlene Li – This books shows us how many businesses use disruption to be successful. They disrupt the norm without thinking about it, and the results are quite phenomenal. Think Uber, AirBnB
Stay on top of your monthly goals

Stay on top of your monthly goals

The beginning of the year is full of resolutions, good intentions and goal setting. It can be all too easy to let it all slide after the first month but with a little bit planning and time management, it can be made easier and much more achievable.

Here are some tips to help with your monthly goal-setting practices to ensure you keep your resolutions on track and to help you achieve your goals all year.

 

First day of the month planning session

At the beginning of each month, put some time aside to sit down and plan. Decide what you want to focus on for the month, write down your monthly goals and what you need to do to stay on track in order to meet your goals. If you have long term goals that need a few months, half a year or even the full year to achieve, write them down at the beginning of every month as a reminder.

 

Monthly, weekly, and daily focuses

Each month choose one main focus that is the most important goal to achieve in that month. It could be related to your personal life such as making more of an effort with friends, concentrating on a new hobby or work-related such as working on improving your business network. Make that your priority for the month to give it the focus it needs. That’s not to say, you should forget about any other goals for that month, but it helps to prioritize. You can also make weekly and daily focuses if required to help you meet any urgent goals.

 

Make your planner/calendar layout fun and attractive

Whether you work with an online planner or a written planner, keep it fresh by adding in backgrounds, colours and images. Change it each month so you don’t get tired of looking at it. You can even have some fun with little notes to yourself and motivational quotes for good measure.

 

Achievement tracking

Keeping track of what you have already achieved in preceding months is just as important as planning ahead. Write down your achievements at the beginning of each month to help you see and understand your progress.  Tracking your progress and being reminded of why you’re doing it is vital to staying focused and motivated.

 

Weekly check-in

Schedule a weekly check-in at the end of each week to track progress and to make any adjustments to your goals. What is working or not working and what can be done to keep your plan on track for the month?

Sticking to your new year resolutions and achieving your goals for 2020 is obtainable and just needs a small amount of planning and reflection time each month to help keep you on track and motivated as the busy year starts to take over. Good luck for a productive and rewarding year!

Dear Client – Please allow me to help you

Dear Client – Please allow me to help you

When I started out as Virtual Assistant the only thing I could think of was how to keep my clients. Many times I wondered if they saw my value, understood my mindset, appreciated the multiple hours not billed for.  I was just happy to have work, not recognising my feeling of unworthiness.  Now being more wise, older, more balance conscious with a mindful spirit, a lot has changed for me when working with clients. I realised I am good in what I do, and I do add value, that is why my business is still thriving.  These days I feel confident to raise my opinion or speak out when I do not agree (in a respectful manner).  I can help you, sometimes it just takes 3 easy (and I mean, easy) steps:

Remember that people differ

 As a virtual assistant people think that we sit in front of a computer and do not talk, see or meet with clients.  Some weeks it felt like I have had more “personal” meetings with my clients than I ever had when I worked in corporate.  These meetings can be draining and stressful when you start out.  But as time go on, short weekly update meetings, schedule planning and strategizing will leave you with more time to focus on the job to be done.

  • Before your meeting, write down pointers to keep you on track, keep it short, and raise any concerns you have had that week.
  • We all see and experience problems differently. Remember to focus when an issue is raised and try to stay open minded.  At first, I got frustrated when my client’s suppliers could not understand me. Now being more open to the language barrier and time difference I know when to contact them, and remember it is for them just as difficult as it is for me.
  • If you feel you need to discuss certain issues with your client more, then bring that up and keep discussing it until a mutual agreement is reached.

Remember you know what you are doing, it is not about what you are saying, but about HOW, WHY and WHEN.  These days you do not need to study Human Relations to be an effective communicator or understand people, you can just google and find online courses that can help you right now.  Only a few of many:

Pluralsight

Udemy

Skillsportal

Stop Multitasking, start Batching

Early on I was multitasking so much, I sometimes called my clients by the other client’s name.  Earth please swallow me.  I was stretched thin, making mistakes, working crazy hours and got very near to burnout.  During one December some of my clients went on vacation the same time and I could focus on one wanting something done urgently.  I could focus on the project for a few hours and got the job done smoothly.  When the others returned, I was in a routine of focusing on one client’s projects for the first 2-4 hours of the day, that I had no other choice as to leave the other projects for later.  After the first 3 hours, I started to work on the other client’s projects, and guess what, I got that done quicker than I thought.  Realizing that I should focus on the one client, and not try to multitask multiple clients at the same time, made me suggest time frames to my clients that I am available to them.  This made them conscious of when to call, text or email, not being annoyed if I did not respond out of those hours.  Now I group my similar tasks in batches and can get through the projects quicker.  This helped my clients to eventually batch their tasks better. Yes, sometimes something is urgent and its needs my time now, but then I can focus, and reschedule my time around that.

Let me train you in my skillset to make your life easier

You may be the CEO of your business, but you appointed me for my skills to make your life easier.  Please allow me to modernize, edit, update and change your logistic process my way. I know what I am doing.  And after that (and usually this process takes a few months to tweak and get correct), let me train one of your people/you to work and understand the system.  Nothing is as frustrating as having to communicate mundane answers when the system is put up in such a way for you to easily access and understand it.  Especially after a long day, and I just want to spend time with my family, I am not going to give attention to something that can wait till tomorrow when I have energy.

In conclusion

It all boils down to respect.  We differ and all have bad days, but we can still work together to get through it whole and happy.  Talk to me, work smarter and remember I can help you in a way that makes your life easier.  I believe both our chapters will be interesting, sometimes stressful, but all the time respectful.  Then the outcome will be faster, smarter and hopefully profitable for us both.