News Headlines..! Always with red bold text and all caps! meticulously designed to grab your attention.. and usually followed with a bunch of stories containing problems with NO solutions.
I’m a journalist who consumes a lot of news, especially in the morning before starting our editorial meeting at work, to decide later on what stories should we cover. After a while, I started thinking it’s kind of weird to start your day with news about murders, kidnapping, protests, sexual assaults, bombing, and other shocking graphic content! But at the same time, I was saying to myself that it was fine… I got used to it and it was extremely important for me to follow what’s going on in the world. And I didn’t know that those little doses of negativity were fueling something inside me.
70% of my dedicated time to news goes to Tunisia, since I’m abroad, I have that feeling that if I didn’t check what’s going on there I would still need that missing pill! I realized that News I’m watching about Tunisia -and emotionally invested in- is a constant loop of the same 3 or 4 stories: Boring footage from the national TV about members of the parliament fighting… Shouting… Talking about everything but with no concrete results, protests in the streets, Coronavirus cases numbers, and death rates… In addition to that, you will hear week after week about a shocking story that goes viral on social media for several days, and then it disappears… Headlines like a kidnapped 4-year-old boy found dead or a prominent politician involved in a bribery scandal, or a Leaked video of a rape that shook the internet! Etc… All in loop! And it’s approximately the same 3 or 4 stories in any country in the world.
It’s been nearly 5 years since I left Tunis to settle in Doha.. and what I really appreciate here in this small capital is that almost everything can be done online! With your mobile, you can pay bills, book an Uber driver, get food delivered to your doorstep, purchase books, flowers, perfumes..! In a nutshell, life is so easy that it made me think and ask so many questions. Why don’t we have those kinds of things in Tunisia as well? Don’t we deserve a better life? Why don’t Uber, Paypal, Talabat, and many other awesome applications exist in Tunisia? Are Tunisians against the online payment concept? Things have evolved around the world and it irritates me to no end to see those technologies flourishing elsewhere but not in my country.
I work 2 jobs like almost every parent. A full-time Community Manager for a great media company and part-time father of two kids. And I’ve never expected to deal with such a complicated mission… Much more complicated than the full-time one! Which is being a parent.
I don’t have any problem to change diapers or play with my kids even when I’m extremely tired and just want to lay down on the sofa, the problem is when my smartphone becomes the predominant method to keep my kid calm and away from me and want him to stop crying to continue that online meeting with my colleagues and managers (if you’re like me working remotely in those hard times) And I know what you’re thinking about… Ban them completely? if you decide to be the super radical parent and ban those technologies from your child… It’s riskier than you think… Because the more walls you build, the more you’re just creating little thirsty hackers trying to get around the fence.
We all know or heard about the risks of letting children be exposed to tech devices. But the real problem is not the child’s addiction. The real problem is us (Parents)!
How can you imagine your kid’s behavior if he/she is seeing you spending too much time on your screen? After only one week of confinement because of the coronavirus, I would say that working from home with kids is not easy at all, I’m physically present but emotionally absent! Sticking to my laptop for 8 hours and maybe more sometimes, I can barely steal little breaks to move around, stretch, and play with my kids.
In a study, researchers surveyed more than 6000 children, aged 8 to 13, from different countries and cultures and found that nearly 1/3 of children felt unimportant when their parents were distracted by their phones. My elder son is almost 3 years now and understands quite a lot of things, after reading about this survey, I was constantly thinking if I did emotionally hurt him. I have to say that I’m a bit of an addict to my phone and try as much as possible to ditch it especially when I’m with my family, but when you’re working for a digital news organization, you HAVE to be always connected to follow what’s happening in the world!
Take it easy with yourself.. You won’t be productive at home!
This is not a negative message but a realistic point of view and working parents with kids at home will be empathetic. Basically I have two choices: either I give my child that magical tool called technology and assume its dangers to focus at work or minimize my working time and give priority to my kids. I wanted to know if there is a way to keep my kids amused (without technology) but at the same time accomplish my daily tasks and progress at work, so I’ve talked to Khalil Melaouhia, a psychologist and member of Ahkili, the first psycho-social helpline platform in Tunisia and Africa, who told me that the first thing we’re talking to parents about is keepingin mind that this is a special situation and it needs a special behavior which implies more patience, and without putting yourself in a pressure to be at your normal level of productivity like you would do normally at the office.
For Khalil Melaouhia, kids should not be exposed to screens until the age of 5! This is the best-case scenario of course but it’s hard to stick to it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children need to sit less and play more to grow up healthy!
“Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and well-being, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life” says Dr. Fiona Bull, programme manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases, at WHO.
That being said, those guidelines are probably non-applicable since kids are unfortunately imprisoned and the entire world is on lockdown because of Covid-19. So let’s be honest, kids will get more screen time those days and we hope that the situation doesn’t get worse. An extra 45 minutes of Masha and the Bear, while you’re finishing a very urgent task, is not the end of the world.
I’ve had a great talk as well with Ines Baccouche, CEO, and founder of ArtForNess, and mother of 2 kids who decided to build her own startup company and work from home even before this pandemic spread out and compels nations to be in confinement. I’ve needed in this research someone experienced who could give me tips for working from home with kids and how to ease the burden for this unprecedented situation.
I really appreciated the way Ines values books and how important reading is for her kids. And I would like to insist more here about the importance of reading by giving an astonishing fact:
Young children whose parents read them 5 books will hear about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to, a study shows, the researchers said: “This will enrich their vocabulary and make them well prepared when they enter school”.
5 tips for working from home parents (that MIGHT work for you)!
Most of us (parents) have been working remotely since the previous month or maybe more and I think we almost found our balance now handling 2 full-time jobs. If you still can’t find yours, don’t be frustrated, you will. It’s just a matter of time. Here are some tips that I found on some trusted sources that I’ve tested and been effective:
You might need to adjust your working schedule and talk to your boss (or your colleagues) about the challenges that you’re facing at home. Personally, I found my balance and felt that I’m more productive when working very early in the morning.
Set a schedule for your kids and think about how a preschool structures a day, you can even call them if they’re available to give you some tips. It’s impossible to set a schedule for an infant or a toddler (up to 2 years) but you can do it for kids above that age.
Naptime is your golden time! When your kids are napping for an hour, or maybe 2 or 3 hours, this is your time to focus at work and do your best. I LOVE nap times!
Split your babysitting time with your partner: if your partner works from home as well, and if you don’t have additional support since they’ve given caregivers time off, cooperation, love and patience are the qualities required for this situation to get things done.
A “Me time” is also essential for your mental health, talk to your partner and let him/her know that you need 30-45 minutes of solitude to practice some sport, meditation, read a book or even do NOTHING… Just to relax.
If you have more useful tips, let me know in the comments section.