Working from home with kids: real talk from some of the moms on our team

As parents, these past two months have been a challenge and yet an opportunity. We have a lot of mothers on our team and luckily have been able to lean on each other and relate to similar challenges throughout. But just like in our early days reflection post, we are humans and have struggled too! Here is what we’ve learned so far.

 

Andrea:

I am sitting at my table, with remnants of morning snack around, crowded on a bench with my six-year-old and three-year-old. In one hand I am holding paper so it can be cut with scissors and the other hand is trying to get a lid back on a marker all while trying to write this blog. This is what working from home with kids has been for me these past two months. My focus is a bit all over the place these days and right fully so – this pandemic and isolation has really been a process of rethinking my priorities.

They say, “It takes a village to raise a child” so right now as a mom I feel I am on an island! We have gone from being parents, to being teachers, play mates, all day restaurants, emotion protectors (the good and the not so good) and oh—still trying to work!

My thoughts and suggestions on working from home with kids:

  • Let go of expectations and be realistic on what you can actually accomplish in a day.

This was difficult for me in the beginning due to that mom guilt that seems to always rear its head as a working mom (Mom why are you working at home? Mom come play with me?). Right now the majority of my energy and priorities are the well-being of my family. This means to preserve my own mental well-being and my family’s I have had to let go of my expectations.

  • Schedule work into small blocks of time. I have tried not to schedule work during homework time or school meetings especially in the morning as this is when my kids are more alert to do their work. This also allows me to work during times they are more likely to be able to be outside with my husband.
  • Establish boundaries. Although I would rather be in my furnished office it is unfortunately on the main floor and more likely to be more inviting for the kids to pop in. Therefore, we have moved our office downstairs to create easier boundaries on when its ok to come and find me.
  • But make sure to include time for family and social interaction. We continue to stop and eat meals and snacks together as a family and are mindful of scheduling Facetime calls with loved ones to keep that connection going.

 

Erica:

Where do I start with this; there are a lot of challenges for me when it comes to working from home:

  • Poor rural internet connection
  • Poor rural cell phone reception
  • No speaker phone on my landline for conference calls
  • School aged children who are expected to follow a curriculum and need their parents to teach them
  • Spouse who is also working
  • Spouse who works shift work and requires rest after night shift when the rest of the household is alive and up
  • More screen time – not just for my kids while I’m working, but for myself via increased virtual meetings and online social gatherings.

But I have worked through many of these and had some great realizations, particularly: the power in letting go. I was hypervigilant and anxious when this all began. I wanted to make sure that we were all going to be okay, and that the kids still had a routine and were getting what they needed when it came to education balanced with fun. I think that it’s natural to go into a bit of a panic state amidst big change. But what I realized after a week or two, is my initial plans and expectations weren’t realistic. Being a full-time parent, spouse and employee is simply unsustainable – especially if you are expecting perfection.

I had to relinquish control over the expectation that each and every class assignment would be completed. I had to learn to allow my husband to teach the kids the way that he wanted to teach them (even though they still rarely get the actual assignments done). I had to set some boundaries around when I absolutely needed a closed door policy when working, and I had to set boundaries on the amount of time I had to work in order to  give my family the mind, body, soul time that we each require to remain strong and seen by one another.

Letting go of this idea of ‘keeping it all together’ actually allowed me to find balance and bring life together a little more easily.

As far as tips go, I would say that finding the time for me has been my life saver. With the kids being home from school, I find they sleep in a bit longer than normal which allows me a little more time in my morning routine.

My morning routine always involves one or two of the following self-care rituals:

  • Education (I listen to a podcast or read a book)
  • I go for a morning walk or morning stretch
  • I meditate in my sacred space

On the days that I invest in myself, I feel greater peace, resilience and clarity which directly impacts my kids and translate to how the rest of our day goes.

 

Raina:

The days are long, but the years are short.  I don’t know who first said that, but it feels very true right now! I have struggled with feeling “stuck” with a busy toddler. Each long day, blending into the next. Not able to go out, fear of them touching something they shouldn’t, pulling them away from other children we pass on the sidewalk. Our bedtime routine is the part of the day I look forward to the most (for more reasons than just putting our son to bed!).  We read stories, we sing songs, and we pray. I ask him each night who he wants to pray for. It’s always the same answer, “pray daddy”.  For those couple of minutes, I take my eyes off myself, I focus on someone else and their needs, and I express my overwhelming gratitude for my health and my family. So start or end your day with your gratitude, think about or pray for someone else, it truly helps!

 

Kelsey:

Let’s be honest, this situation is hard! Harder than I ever could have imagined or described. I miss my village, time to myself, and for my kitchen to be clean for longer than 5 minutes. As much as I try to practice gratitude and reflect daily, being a strong support for my little ones while managing my own emotions is just hard.

Some days my cup is full and I have more patience, and feel like I am the mom I want to be; other days my cup is bone dry and I barely recognize the person I am, and I find I am reaching for anything to try and fill my cup.

Recently I found that every time I put my kids down for quiet time, I was wanting a cup of coffee and something sweet. Usually I have no problem with having a sweet, but when I monitored my thoughts and saw what was repeatedly coming up, I realized I was trying to fill another need. I wanted something to increase my energy (caffeine) and reward myself (a cookie) for getting to the halfway mark of the day.  Thanks to my daily reflections on My Viva Plan® I was able to identify that I was looking for an energy boost and time to myself. As much as I encourage eating with my family at meals, I find taking 2-3 lunches a week to eat on my own, something I really enjoy and look forward to helps me to fill my cup and put me in a positive mindset for the rest of the day. It is taking these small wins and moments that help manage the extra stress during this time.

 

Loreen:

I have always said that sleep deprivation was the worst part of becoming a mom! But that was almost 17 years ago and now I am faced with being quarantined with two teenagers and working from home! I am sharing office space with my daughter who snarls at me when I am on conference calls if I am distracting her, throws her arms in the air if I forget to close the door to the office when I leave and gets grouchy about the food that is or isn’t in the fridge.

To be honest I would say that’s just a normal day! But during this pandemic I find that these normal scenarios are testing my patience. I had to figure out how to react and deal with my feelings that leave me feeling good about myself. My goal is to not contribute to the drama; way easier said then done! Prior to the pandemic I had my morning commute to the office to calm myself down after a bad interaction with the alien that has invaded my daughters’ body. I would then vent to my colleagues when I got to the office and end off going into my office and look at a picture of my daughter pre-alien life and all was good in my world. Then I would hit repeat the next day and the day after that…

But I am not driving anywhere nor am I having any chit chat in the morning with anyone. These strategies helped me cope as a mom and keep my thoughts, feelings and behaviours in check so I can appreciate the things I am grateful for. But more importantly, my routine allowed me to accept that I am not and do not have to be a perfect parent, lord knows my parents weren’t and I still loved them. Second, I am allowed as a mom to feel frustrated and not be happy; that as a mom I can openly express my frustration without being judged as being ungrateful or whatever other label we like to attach to one another. I can simply acknowledge my feelings for what they are. We all know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” — it is true. Moms today need to remember this. We aren’t in this alone. We need to build our network of genuine friends and family we can openly share our feelings and frustrations without feeling like we are being judged. This support network is so important for each of us to navigate all the different seasons of being a parent.

My Mother’s Day wish for every mom this year is to be kind to yourself and remember that you matter. If you believe that you matter, you will be more likely to do self-care, which will help you be more present for others and build your mom armour to navigate this journey of parenthood. It’s what helps me keep me grounded and be in control of my thoughts and feelings. I recognize that while I really don’t like the alien, I do love my daughter and eventually the alien will retreat.