By Charlotte Summers
One of the most important questions on a lot of parents mind right now is how do we keep balance and maintain well-being through these uncertain times? We spoke to Tuvia Borok to find out.
Tuvia is no stranger to juggling multiple hats at once as EMEA Head of the Structured Finance and Securitisation Legal teams at Goldman Sachs, Co-founder and CEO of the P3 Network and a single parent to his 9-and-a-half-year-old son. Lucky for us, he has kindly shared some insightful tips on how to stay balanced throughout the current crisis.
1. Acknowledge that we have different personas or parts of us in the corporate world vs our human parenting role. Parents do best when we are caring, empathetic, and sensitive. For most careers, those are not the leading characteristics that are proven to allow us to perform best in our roles. So, when permanently working from home in isolation environments, we need to be mindful that it is difficult to switch between these two, sometimes conflicting, sides of ourselves. Our kids will come and want attention, or ask a question, or just want a hug, and they deserve to see the caring, loving parent they are used to.
It does mean being mindful to take a split second to disconnect and showcase our parenting side. Start training yourself to take that split second to “switch” to parenting mode. Your kids deserve the caring, sensitive side of you - this is just as hard on them, and you don’t want them to feel like it’s their fault.
2. Be careful about word choice. While parts of our workday will take priority, be cautious about your word choice. When requests come in from your child(ren) be mindful to not turn them away using the all too common word “important” when referring to work. Children internalise that message to mean that our work is more important than they are (rather than the particular mundane request they may have just made). It's about acknowledging their request or feelings, but saying that you will deal with it in a few moments, or at a particular time, when you can give them the attention and focus they deserve. This will make them feel valued and not feel that they are less important. After all, we tell our children that they are our number one priority!
3. Structure. One thing we’ve done in our house is make a daily schedule together. That means we have broken up the day to blocks of learning, studying, break time, personal reading, etc.
Trying to replicate a school calendar with a morning and afternoon break (with no screen time!) has been key. We start learning at 9am just like school; and break for lunch at a time like at school. This tries to maintain some sense of normality and familiarity.
4. Be honest. It’s ok to get it wrong. We are all learning and trying to figure out a new normal - both as adults and as kids. In this instance, as parents we don’t have experience to share with our kids about having been through something like this before. So, it’s OK to admit this is new for us all. That honesty could go a long way in validating some of the feelings of uncertainty that our kids could be experiencing. Remember, it’s OK to not be OK. And we should share that message with our kids.
5. Breathe and Laugh. I’ve blocked my calendar a couple of times throughout the day at 15min blocks. Let’s be honest, most 1hr meetings/call aren’t efficient and the key content can be achieved in 45min. That means I’ve built in 15min breaks to be together and to play a game of Uno, or have a few rolls on the on-going game of Monopoly we have been playing for the last few days.
Not only is it a great opportunity for the kids to engage with us in a fun way, but it works wonders as a mid-day stress relief from work. I know that those few min help me come back to my work with a smile on my face.
6. Finding what works for you and your family. Each will be different but remember that none of us are perfect (at the best of times) and as parents we are trying to always get it right.
Let’s not be so hard on ourselves. And as long as we are trying our best then that deserves a pat on the back. It’s a complicated juggling act; sometimes a ball may fall. But, stop, breathe, smile, pick the balls up and get juggling again. You got this! We all do!