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Keeping perspective…and your patience…as a working parent right now

My first three weeks working from home with a kid

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Ever since my son was six months old, I’ve worked. I’ve gone into an office and had 8 hours kid-free to focus on my work and (try) to be productive. Even then, as a mom, I found that difficult. Mom brain is a real thing, let me tell you! You would think the minute you give birth, you lose your mind in the process. Remembering things suddenly became extremely difficult and I found I needed a to-do list for everything. And that I forgot half of them anyway!

Enter COVID-19.

Much like the majority of people right now, I’ve been working from home for over three weeks now. With a four-year-old. And unfortunately, my husband is still having to go to work outside the home.

I was in no way prepared to be a mom, a working professional, and a teacher…all at the same time. This is something a large majority of parents are having to deal with right now and it’s hard. Like really, really hard.

I’ve tried it all…schedules that have hour-by-hour activities that include as many of the things he was used to at daycare. I didn’t want him to lose his routine (that would be bad for the teachers to when he went back!) and I wanted to make sure he had time for learning and play and to be active. Well, right from day one, that didn’t work. Why? Because schedules for kids vs work meeting schedules make for a very bad mix.

So I tried a sign that I put up that showed me on a work call and that he needed to be quiet and patient while I was on the call. That didn’t work. To be fair, I’m REALLY bad at drawing. He probably has no clue what it is.

I’ve tried finding activities to keep him busy. Online learning apps (So thankful for the companies that offered free trials/periods!). Movies. Reading books. Those all worked…for like five minutes.

Why? Because my son is four. He’s very active. And he also didn’t understand that, if I was home, why couldn’t I play with him? Explaining to a four-year-old that I needed to work and couldn’t play didn’t go over well.

I did my best. Am I doing a great job at wearing a million hats right now? No. Absolutely not. Week three is much harder than week one. Maybe it’s because we’ve been quarantined for so long and are starting to lose a bit of our sanity. Maybe it’s because we are all a little stir-crazy as well as sad and frightened about what’s happening in the world.

All I know is, this is hard. Being in the middle of a call and having my son vie for my attention is hard. Trying to talk in a meeting and also keep an eye out for him to make sure he’s ok makes it difficult to stay focused. Constant interruptions for help or a snack (why does he want snacks ALL the time while at home?!) or just asking to play makes it that much harder to work.

It’s taken time but I’m learning to not be so hard on myself. To understand that this is a hard time for everyone else too. To take intentional breaks, even if they are only five minutes between meetings, to spend meaningful time with my son. To take a lunch break and do fun activities like have a “picnic” lunch or build a fort.

I’m also trying to have some perspective. This time with him is time I never would have had otherwise. I’m blessed to be have a job during this time and to also be able To spend all of my hours with my son, even if they are stressful hours. Hopefully all he remembers of this time is that he got his mommy to himself all day. And I hope that’s what I remember the most during this time too!

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