Updated: April 30, 2021 2:23:48 pm
By Dr Manjula S. Patil
You want to do everything you can as a parent to protect your kids. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges for families all over the world. This has had a huge impact on our lives, changing the way we think, the way we live and work. Prior to the pandemic many working women with families felt that their hectic work schedule prevented them from seeing their children and loved ones and spending quality time with them. Working mothers, on the other hand, found themselves juggling between various tasks that would normally be performed by others when the lockdown was implemented (domestic help, schools, elderly care, etc).
Responsibilities related to childcare grew in a way that had never been seen before. The nation has officially opened, just as working mothers were learning to balance work and family commitments during the lockdown. Many people are still grappling with the prospect of returning to work in the midst of a still-raging pandemic. This situation is very frightening because, even though the limitations are lifted, the number of cases continue to rise on a daily basis. How can you be certain that you are safe? Returning to work would likely entail encounters with a variety of individuals and the contact points would increase drastically.
While many offices have decided on work from home, there are still workplaces which require physical attendance, including essential services. Although your employers will take all of the Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) measures set forth by the government such as thermal scanning and proper workplace sanitization, it is important to note that your office will not be the same until you return. To stay safe, you’ll need to take some precautions. During Covid times, you have to think twice about doing things you took for granted.
When heading to work…
Remember to take care the moment you leave your home, not just when you arrive at your office. Put a mask on your face and don’t take it off at any point. If you need to remove the mask for some reason, keep it in a zip lock bag. Since each mask can only be worn for four hours, having several masks on hand is important. In your purse, keep hand sanitizer and tissues. Wearing gloves and face masks is also a good idea. As far as possible avoid touching any common surface of contact.
Try to go to work alone and avoid sharing vehicles with co-workers, especially two-wheelers. If you’re taking a taxi, make sure to wash or sanitise your hand after touching the door handle. Unless it is absolutely necessary, do not pause to buy anything. If you do pause, make sure you are at least six feet away from other people.
Walking into the office…
As the workplace has changed dramatically, new safety policies have been implemented that need your attention. All essential aspects of safety and hygiene must be considered as they must become the modern way of life and cannot be taken for granted any longer. As soon as you arrive at your office, go to the restroom and wash your hands thoroughly making sure that you scrub for 20 seconds after applying soap. Meeting up with co-workers after a long absence is a pleasant experience, but caution must be exercised while engaging with co-workers or going out for meetings. When using common touch points such as elevator buttons and door handles, be extra cautious. As far as possible, stay away from them. If you can’t avoid it, make sure to wash your hands after each use. When you get to your desk, don’t start working right away. Sanitise your computer, desk, keyboard, phone and everything else that has been in contact with others.
Throughout the day’s work…
Now comes the difficult part, working the whole day while taking all necessary precautions. However as the saying goes, ‘ prevention is better than cure ‘ so make sure to take the following precautions when working:
Do not remove your mask at the workplace at any cost.
Minimum 2 metre distance between working cubicles is must.
Greet your co-workers from afar. Do not exchange handshakes.
Bring a water bottle and a lunch box with you everyday and eat separately while keeping a healthy distance from others.
At work, remember to wash your hands 2-3 times for 20 seconds. If required, set a reminder on your phone.
Cover your mouth with an elbow or upper sleeve if you feel like sneezing or coughing. If you think you’re getting a cold or cough, go home right away,
If you notice any of your colleagues having suspicious symptoms of COVID , make it a point to inform them politely to stay away from the workplace and get themselves tested.
Returning home from work…
This phase is critical because you will be entering your home after a day of communicating with several people and touching unfamiliar surfaces. Take the following steps to ensure the safety of your children and the rest of your family:
After safely disposing of the hand gloves, immediately wash your hands.
Remove your mask, gloves and other items and wash them in warm water before drying.
For a while, stay away from your kin.
Change your clothes and put them in the washing machine. Taking a hot water bath with Dettol can be helpful in curtailing infections.
Anything you brought to work should be sanitised, such as your wallet, phone and keys.
Juggling work and childcare is a difficult but manageable task. Every day, many remote workers successfully manage this reality. Although your situation is unique from that of families who work at home and care for children on a daily basis, you can create a temporary arrangement to meet your needs. While it may be a daunting task as Covid has inflicted several lifestyle changes and restrictions in our lives, as the saying goes, ‘precaution is always better than cure’ and this will keep you and your family safe from contracting infections. You’ll be able to weather your COVID-19 stint at home with the kids with a little preparation, a lot of conversation and an adaptable attitude.
‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going ‘. Let us all be prepared to face these tough times
With due precautions.
(The writer is Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, HRBR, Bangalore)
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