Six months ago I went from working in a box (aka a cubicle) for 15 years to suddenly working from the comfort of home. It was literally a dream come true for me, minus the pandemic, of course. In addition to my awesome new unconfined work location, my new normal came with a whole cast of new coworkers; two kids, two dogs, and a husband who was also suddenly thrown into the work from home world.
I dove in headfirst, determined to make it all work just as smoothly as it worked when the kids were still in school and I still had to get up at 4 a.m. to commute to work.
The first few months were a breeze.
Neither my preschooler nor my high schooler had to participate in any virtual face-to-face school meetings, and their schoolwork lightened up pretty quickly.
I set up my desk on top of my treadmill, determined to move all day, and prove to myself that it’s so much easier to get into shape and stay in shape if you work from home.
I had high expectations of what this new world would be like… and boy did that blow up in my face!
I quickly learned that I cannot work in the same room as my four-year-old, and my teenager was going to sleep all day and do schoolwork at night. My husband had already confiscated the spare bedroom downstairs for his office, so I decided to claim the spare bedroom upstairs for mine. I set up cameras in the house so that I could keep an eye on my four-year-old while I worked and made myself at home in my new office.
School ended soon afterward, and summer started. I found myself sitting a lot more than I had planned, as well as eating a lot more. On top of that, I found myself often spending my days in my workout clothes from my morning cardio, or my pajamas all day if I hadn’t had a chance to work out yet. It was all too easy to take full advantage of this new sheltered lifestyle.
Have you heard of the quarantine 15 or the pandemic 15? Well, let me just tell you, it’s real!
Now that the kids are back in school, and the virtual requirements have become a good bit more stringent, things have changed again. The morning video calls with my preschoolers teachers, classmates, and speech therapists made me realize that I really need to have myself and my family on a decent schedule in order for this to work.
I also need to get myself back together since now I’ll be on video calls!
I’m one of the lucky parents who has a teenager who is able to handle her own classes, and rarely needs assistance. I’m also fortunate to have a preschoolers who’s classwork and assignments are extremely easy to understand.
What do our days look like now?
My days now consist of me intentionally setting an alarm clock again so I can get up before the rest of my family and spend some time on myself. This includes getting my workout for the day in (If I don’t work out in the morning, I found there’s a good chance kit won’t happen at all), taking my meds and drinking my water, checking my schedule for the day, and planning out the tasks I need to focus on. If there are any video classes that are not part of our regular schedule, I plan those out as soon as I can so that I can work around those classes with my work schedule.
Next, I make sure my teenager is awake and getting settled for her online courses. Then I either jump in the shower or I jump onto one of our morning meetings, depending on who has what first that day.
If my preschooler’s meeting is first on the agenda, we get him dressed and settled in at the kitchen table so we can dial into his class. None of us are typically breakfast eaters so it’s not something I have to work into the schedule in this family, thank goodness. However, if either of the kids are hungry when I wake them, my husband or I will grab them something quick to eat.
Once my preschooler’s class is over, I will settle him down in the den with his toys and iPad so that he can play while I go to work in my office for a bit. As I work, I keep an eye on him through my video camera, and every hour or so, I will go downstairs and check to see if he needs something and play with him for a few minutes. Of course, he comes to find my husband or me at least every 10 minutes wanting something anyway.
I check to see if my daughter is done with her classes for the day and then I head downstairs to fix some lunch. Sometimes I get lucky and my oldest son will stop by the house to eat lunch with me if he’s working nearby. After we eat, I’ll play with my four-year-old for a little bit or read his book of the month to him for school.
Then I head back upstairs to work and continue my day as I did before lunch. Typically, whoever gets finished with work for the day first, between my husband and I, will get dinner started. When I sign off from work for the day, that’s when the second half of preschool starts. We will sit at the table and work on school assignments with our youngest. Then we all eat dinner together, usually go outside to play for a bit, and then start getting ready for bed.
So I’m going to be completely honest with you here.
I mentioned meds earlier that I take in the morning. After the sudden loss of my mother in 2016, I began struggling with depression and anxiety. I didn’t really seek help for it until sometime during 2018 when I realized I just couldn’t deal with it alone anymore. Because of this, I have been on depression and anxiety medicine for a while now.
Over the course of this pandemic, as I started to lose myself a little again, my meds were adjusted. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and I am thankful for the difference they have made in my life. If you, or anyone you know, seems to be struggling, please consider getting some help. It does make a world of difference. I can attest to that.
Working full-time while raising a family is tough enough by itself, but add in a pandemic where you now become a full-time working woman, mom, and full or part-time teacher (depending on your situation) simultaneously, and you are now swimming in some difficult water. BUT, we don’t have to choose between sinking or swimming here; we just have to give it our best shot. Even if it takes you almost six months to really get this working well for your family, it is worth the struggle.
I am so grateful for this time with my family.