I have said throughout this pandemic response that my family is one of the lucky ones. Sure, the kids aren’t in school, my husband and I aren’t going into the office, and our calendars are bare. But, there is food on the table, money in the bank, love in our home, and the ability to stay in this hold pattern circling normalcy indefinitely. That does make every day fun or easy (though some are both of those).
I have read many articles of other families describing how they parent and work from home, and it sounds like a disaster. Thankfully, we’ve gotten into a good rhythm. Our new normal and daily schedule still look like our days in late March. Here’s why I think it’s worked for us.
- There are two parents at home. I acknowledge that benefit has been key to maintaining our sanity (for the most part).
- Our jobs (or at least mine) allow for flexibility on WHEN we work. It’s not an issue if I get my work done at 6am or 11pm, just as long as I meet my deadlines and produce high-quality work. Now, that doesn’t negate the need for meetings in the middle of the work day, but at least my focused work can happen whenever works best for our family. Heck, I can even put in hours over the weekend, cutting down on the time crunch during the week.
- When I’m with the boys during the day, I’m not working. I block my calendar so meetings can’t be scheduled then. I have informed my teams of my working hours. Everyone is aware of my situation. Folks can call or text me if there’s an emergency, but nothing is typically that time sensitive. Being away from my computer for two hours is no different than being in a long meeting.
- Set work priorities and boundaries. I turn down meetings that don’t really need me there. I delegate opportunities that management invite me to participate in if others would contribute more or better benefit. I’m protective of my time and priorities. If an opportunity doesn’t align with my professional goals for the year (which already were selected to cascade from leadership’s goals), then I pass. This is easier said than done and likely worth it’s own blog post.
- My shifts with the boys are kid-focused. I use my two-hour shift with the kids to get their school work done, sure, but I’m also giving them A LOT of attention. After two hours, they are done with me and happy to play independently or with each other. This helps make my husband’s shift immensely easier.
- We have a routine, so everyone knows what to expect throughout the day. I recognize that my structure and plan can seem rigid to some, but it’s the one thing I feel we can control right now. That, and I know it makes the boys more willing, for example, to focus on worksheets when they always do schoolwork at 9am.
Photo: Picture of all of the worksheets and paper we completed March-June during the school year. Not pictured? All of the online work they did on top of this!