Guess what! It’s National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. In the past, I’ve shared what my experience was like to have a baby at work. I thought those days were long behind us. Then, COVID-19 happened and I have found myself at home with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. First of all, I don’t want this post to come off as ungrateful. I realize that I am incredibly fortunate to have the ability to continue to work from home. With that said, there is nothing easy about this arrangement.
What I Love About Working From Home
No joke, these are trying times. Let me find some positives to share with you.
- No commute
- Spending extra time with my kids
- No makeup – I know a lot of people recommend getting up and getting dressed to feel productive, but I disagree. We’ve added enough stressors to let go of how we look temporarily. You’ll notice no photos of me are included in this post 😂
- Staying safe!
I love when people disguise awful things as “opportunities.” These are challenges.
- Figuring out how to work 16 hours a day (between my husband and me) into every workday while caring for small children who need (and deserve) attention.
- Attempting to participate in conference calls while 2 kids and 2 dogs are super loud.
- Eating at home. And subsequently planning every. single. meal and running the dishwasher basically nonstop.
The Best of Times
I think it’s great that my kids are getting a glimpse of what their parents do for a living. They ask what I’m working on and why. When I’m not working, we are doing many, many projects to keep the kids occupied and from completely zonking out on screen time.
We’ve gone on Pinterest to find recipes for Cloud Dough, Homemade PlayDoh, Chalk Paint, and Puffy Chalk Paint.
We’ve played outside when the weather allows. We’re in St. Louis and in the last month, it’s literally been below freezing all the way up to the 90s. I’m not sure if that makes the shutdown feel like it’s longer than it really has been or helps it to go by faster since we get to do completely different activities.
Some of our outdoor activities:
- Nature walk
- Set up the camping tents
- Ride bikes
- Search for 4-leaf clover
- Gardening/weed pulling
- Roast marshmallows
- Worm dig
- Splashing in mud puddles
- Bird watching
I really am trying to make the best of this time together. I want my kids to remember this as “the time we were safe at home and did fun things together.” I am trying to avoid the memories being labeled as “the time we were stuck at home and mom and dad worked on their computers all day when they weren’t yelling at us.”
I’m sure it will end up somewhere in the middle, and I can only hope my kids won’t need therapy to fix what’s happening to them. Although, I truly believe many of us will come out on the other side with some form of PTSD. When we watch pre-recorded news segments, I automatically think to myself those people need to back up at least 6 feet and put a mask on.
The Not So Great Times
I, along with many other moms out there, feel like I am struggling. I can handle being a working mom. I could handle being a stay-at-home mom. I can almost handle homeschooling my kids, but I cannot do all of these things at once. There literally are not enough hours in the day. And there is not enough coffee/wine in the world to get us through it with our sanity.
I also struggle with anxiety, and adding a pandemic to my plate is A LOT. I cry. I lose my temper. I mess up. And it’s ok. I am trying to do better. I am trying to figure out what works.
For the first few weeks, my husband and I were attempting to work and join regularly scheduled meetings. As soon as I’d start to make progress on something, we had to tag the other parent out to be on kid duty. Now, we have shifted our plans. He has the morning dedicated to work and I have the afternoons. And we try to hop on to check emails, etc., while the kids are engaged in something (read: watching YouTube Kids or Netflix). We also try to work early in the morning or after the kids go to bed. Realistically, I am not working my normal full-time hours because something has to give. And I can’t give my kids away. Kidding.
Where I Work (at home)
I’ve seen a lot of people advocate for setting up a place dedicated to work in their home during the pandemic. I believe these people either have a larger home than I do, or they do not have kids. For the first few weeks, I set up shop at my crafting table in the basement. It was quiet, but without natural light, and honestly, a bit isolating. I do have an extra monitor set up down there, which is completely necessary for certain projects.
Then, we installed some swings into the basement for the kids and the basement office was suddenly the most popular spot in the house. So, like a nomad, I roam from room to room wherever the kids are not playing. I’m writing this from the dining room table. It’s nice to mix things up. Maybe later I’ll travel to the living room or even kick my feet up in bed. Who knows. Things could get crazy.
Babies at work is not even comparable to working from home during a pandemic. Having a baby at work is a wonderful experience. Mom and baby get lots of bonding, and stuff gets done. Working from home during a pandemic without childcare is a special kind of torture. I love my kids more than anything in this world, but things are tough. To all the parents in the same boat: hang in there. Reach out to a friend for support. Even if it’s just to commiserate. We may be alone, but we’re in this together.