Welcome to our Life at Home series! For the next little while, we’ll be sharing stories and lessons learned from our team members, who are learning to adapt to current circumstances and working at home full-time, like so many of you.
Every time I scroll through a social site and see all the articles about finally tackling your to-do list, or using your free time to organize your home, or starting spring cleaning early—I can’t decide whether to laugh or roll my eyes.
By comparison, my living room—which is now my new office—looks like it’s had a bomb go off inside.
I can’t help but wonder how people have all this newfound free time. I went from going to an office every day, where I could focus on just work, to being home with two young kids (four and two) and my husband every waking hour of the day. We’re not just working anymore—we have to wear three different hats, every minute of every day.
I’m a full-time mom, a teacher, and an employee at the same time—and if we’re being honest, I’m probably a full-time cook too. These kids never stop eating!
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, at least, my days have gotten a whole lot wilder, and a whole lot more transparent.
Week 1 was at best a learning curve—I tried very hard to make sure my oldest, who’s in junior kindergarten, was keeping up with his reading, writing, and creative learning, and my youngest was learning his colors, numbers, and letters. I made sure my requests at work were still getting completed—and most of all, I tried to stay sane.
I can’t honestly say that I succeeded at that. I was snappy, I was tired from having to move some of my normal hours to after bedtime, and I just couldn’t keep up with everything.
By Week 2, I decided I had to let go of my expectations. There was just no way I could possibly do or be all the things everyone needed me to be during this time, and I needed to recognize that that’s okay.
I needed to be okay with less structure for my kids.
Instead of forcing traditional schooling on them during the day, now they’re learning in more home-friendly ways. They’re helping make meals. They’re making birdhouses, coloring, painting. They’re making messes with Lego and playdough, reading extra books before naps and bedtime, doing science experiments while washing their hands.
By the way, for the other moms and dads out there—if you do the black pepper germ experiment with your kids, be sure to explain that it’s an example only! My four-year-old almost cried because he thought the “germs” were going to make him sick.
I needed to be okay with things not going as planned.
Let me tell you, my coworkers have learned a lot these past few weeks about what life is like with my kids. Even in meetings, I can’t go more than five minutes without choruses of “Mommy!!” happening in the background. My personal life is out there for everyone to see right now.
I need to remember to make sure I’m on mute before the stern mom voice comes out to tell them to settle down—or else I get quite a few comical faces from my coworkers when they think I’m talking to them.
I needed to remember to appreciate the little things.
I know I’m not the only one who gets anxiety about everything that’s going on right now—and that’s when I need to remember the little things. The extra snuggles with my kids in the morning because we have nowhere to rush off to. The extra time I’m spending with my kids, learning about them and how they learn, and what they like to learn. The early dinners we can have because we don’t have to commute, and the extra time that gives us to spend as a family in the evenings.
These are interesting times right now. The weeks are long, and no changes in scenery means one day runs into the next. Shutting off is harder when your office is right there, part of your everyday life—but remember to try and slow down without jeopardizing what you need to get done.
If that means taking an extra hour to watch TV with your kids, then do that.
If it means taking time to call or FaceTime a friend or family member to save your own sanity, then do that.
Just because we need to stay home and avoid face-to-face socialization, that doesn’t mean we’re truly isolated. This is our new normal, and it’s taken a bit to adjust my own expectations for myself, but I’m thankful that I can work from home and be here for my kids through this time.
And hopefully this can help you, too.