One Working Mom’s Perspective During COVID-19
By Katherine Forbes
Here we are, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, and I — like many of you — have a lot of “macro anxiety” about our community, our nation, our world as we know it. I’m freaking out a little on the inside (and sometimes the outside), but I’m also hyper-aware that I have to stay sane for my colleagues and teammates at work, and — most importantly — for my family at home, including my two young children.
My husband and I are now both working from home, full-time, and we are so grateful that we have the types of jobs where we CAN remain employed and work remotely. Many, I know, do not have this option. And there are two of us — those without spouses to help are in a far more difficult situation. While we are trying to keep our jobs as uninterrupted as possible, we are also expected to put on our homeschool teacher hats and keep our 1st and 3rd graders busy with enriching activities — overseeing schoolwork or setting them up on apps or websites to work through various parts of their curriculum. Like many of you, we are a little lost.
Don’t worry — this is NOT yet another well-meaning aggregation of activities and websites to keep your little ones busy, but rather a real perspective from someone who is also trying to adjust to this new way of getting through our days.
Here are a few of the things I’m trying with my family — who knows what will work and what won’t, but we can all figure it out together:
- Minimize unnecessary meetings. It’s tough, but I’ve asked my team to hold off on scheduling phone calls where decisions can be made on Slack/email/elsewhere. It’s just HARD to have quiet in a house full of kids and a barking dog and the UPS delivery person — unless it’s ESSENTIAL to have a phone call, push to Slack/email. I’ve tried to be fully transparent with my team, so they can understand my work-from-home-reality, and so I can understand theirs. Dogs will bark. Kids will interrupt. Roommates will be roommates.
- Start time blocking. My husband and I plan to review our upcoming schedules each evening, and figure out when one of us can be on “kid duty,” while the other takes calls/handles work that requires focus/gets to be alone in an office with the door closed. The minimization of meetings will help this, but we’ve also quickly learned that we can’t expect the kids to be patient and quiet when we’re on the phone. So, one person has to pay attention to the kids while the other tends to their work. It’s just reality.
- Get outdoors. We’re making sure the kids go outside once every 2 hours. They can’t take walks or walk the dog on their own, so we have to join. We are trying to institute a no phone policy on these outings — just take the time, breathe the fresh air, let the emails pile up. It’s good for the kids; it’s good for us.
- Give the kids a break. Speaking only for our kids here, but this is hard on them. They love school and they love their teachers and friends. This is a huge adjustment — one none of us wanted. They are going to be whiney, they are going to fight, they are going to frustrate each other and us. So, we’re telling ourselves (repeatedly, honestly) that it’s okay if they are upset or not perfectly behaved. This isn’t easy. This WILL pass, but we have to get through it day by day.
- Do what you can! I am trying to force myself to accept that my days will be interrupted, truncated, unscheduled. This is reality. All you can do is what you can — as much as you can — during the day. Try to make yourself sign off at a normal time — be present in the evening/during nighttime routines. Speaking for myself, I will need to work after kids’ bedtimes and before wake-ups, but it will give me some peace of mind knowing that I’ve dedicated a few hours to uninterrupted family time so we can talk about all that we managed to do that day.
We are all figuring this out together, and some people in this community may have more experience than I do. But in the meantime, stay safe and remember that our Creative Circle family will keep working on your behalf. Even if our workspace is loud and sometimes messy.
About the author.
Katherine Forbes is the VP of Marketing at Creative Circle. She is also now a part-time homeschool teacher to her 8 year old daughter and 6 year old son.