CONFLICT BETWEEN PRIVATE AND WORK DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
In common times, the boundaries between work and non-work roles represent a potential tension that most people face on a daily basis. But 2020 was not quite the usual year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees began working from home. According to the Government’s instructions, due to social distancing, employees moved their office at home, which led to a sudden change between work and non-work boundaries. The primary domain of the non-work zone is family, which is why we will talk further about the relationship between work and family during a pandemic.
One study showed that there was a change in the interpretation of conflict between private and work. Conflict has been shown to decrease in couples who do not have children, while conflict has increased in couples who have children under 13 years old (Schieman et al., 2021). The explanation of this finding can be interpreted based on the unique requirements of children of a certain age such as education, supervision, daily care. Children older than 13 can usually write their own homework, do their own hygiene, make a sandwich, watch TV. Therefore, the conflict is greater in parents with younger children. In uncertain times like this, it was not easy to face sudden demands. Work-family integration required rapid adjustment, which made it difficult to create a specific plan and program that could work. Parents may have felt as if they had neglected the child with every ignored question related to school assignments, every request for a snack, and every time they put a small child in front of a TV or video in the role of a nanny (Schieman et al., 2021). Specifically, the Croatian sample showed that working from home was not associated with work ease, which means that their perception of work engagement was higher than working from the office (Jokić-Begić et al., 2019). Accordingly, the finding is that more than a third of parents believe that the demands of parenthood have increased because they had less free time (Jokić_begić et al., 2019). In addition, parents cited that they spend more time with their children, but that they are not directly dedicated to their children, and that the number of conflicts between parents and children has increased (Jokić-Begić et al., 2019).
How to meet such requirements?
- Provide a home environment that will be a workspace.
- Empower yourself with communication skills. It is very important to clearly express your needs, work them out and understand them. Circumstances have changed for every householder, so support inevitably helps resolve conflict.
- Be empathetic. Be sensitive to the needs of others, listen to their emotions, and appreciate the feelings that others encounter.
- Set ground rules. For example, maintaining basic hygiene, making a daily schedule, allocating household chores.
- Ensure a daily routine. Eg. at the same time you have breakfast, work, go to sleep, have lunch ..
- Find a common free activity. Eg. playing board games, watching TV together…
The pandemic led to forced coordination of demands that were not common during an individual’s working day, so tension could accumulate that was not easy to name or face. One of the exercises that helps gain insight into one’s own emotional state is defining and differentiating thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The exercise in the NAOMI application will help you learn to distinguish the three aspects mentioned. Allow yourself to ease the weight that unspoken emotions have. It’s okay sometimes to have a rain cloud of unpleasant emotions above you, but behind every rain comes the sun.
Jokić-Begić, N., Hromatko, I., Jurin, T., Kamenov, Ž., Keresteš, G., Kuterovac-Jagodić, G., Lauri Korajlija, A., Maslić Seršić, D., Mehulić, J., Mikac, U., Tadinac, M., Tomas, J., Sangster Jokić, C. A. (2019). How are we? Life in Croatia in time of corona : preliminary results of the research project. Department of psychology on Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. Report.