Two months ago, my job description changed dramatically. I am now teacher, principal, guidance counselor, gym instructor, cook, housekeeper, and referee between my two small boys. Oh, and I still have my day job.
Before the times of COVID-19, society's expectations of working parents was unrealistic, but looking back, manageable. Now? It's just flat-out crazy. Whether I'm talking to my friends or opening up my social media feeds, I'm hearing more and more parents say:
How do we get it all done?
I don't think I can do my full-time job, be an educator and a parent.
I'm going to lose my job. It was hard before all of this, now it's even harder.
Working parents unite! Am I right?!
I'm thankful to be surrounded by an amazingly supportive team. We pick each other up when we need it and we laugh at the antics going on around us.
Which is the only thing you can do at moments such as a recent team video conference when my toddler ran into my home office shouting: "Look Mommy! I'm a superhero, look!" I turn around to see my son as naked as the day he was born, just off camera (thankfully). At that moment, someone asked me a question, but I was--to say the least--too distracted to respond while my team was clearly waiting for my response.
I'm happy to report that no one was mooned in the process but me. It got me thinking about this brave new world we're all in and what might help other moms of young kids. I hope these tips to balance work and family are helpful to everybody trying to manage it all right now.
1. Go Easy On Yourself.
There is only so much we can do and only so many hours to get it all done. We can pull all nighters, wake up at the crack of dawn on little sleep but how productive are you? You're most likely overwhelmed, stressed out and you're taking it all out on your kids and/or your significant other, if you have one. But the kids are probably feeling the wrath from all the stress. I see it in my kids when I get stressed out over something and I take it out on them. I continue to remind myself there is only so much I can humanly do right now.
My family back in January, when we only pretended to be living crazy lives
2. Keep A Schedule.
It has been super helpful keeping the kids' schedules as-is, minus the school schedule, of course. Keeping my kids' schedules has helped me put blocks of time on my work calendar so my co-workers know when I'm not available. It also allows my husband to work around my schedule so that he can take over with the kids or vice versa. I realize this isn't the case for single, working parents. To those parents, hats off to you. You are my heroes.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
This isn't the time to hold everything in and power through. Self-care is more important now than ever before for our sanity, our significant others and our kids. Drowning at work? Talk to your manager. If that doesn't work, talk to a colleague you trust - it will help talking through your work situation and could lead to problem solving with a clear mind.
If you have a significant other, talk to them about work. Figure out a schedule or system that works for both of you to meet your work priorities.
Cheers to company happy hours. We may be virtual, but our Dialogue team culture is real.
4. This too shall pass
We don't know when we will be able to resume normalcy, but remember, this is temporary. All the rules about screen time, that's out the window. Worried about social skills? Don't be. Kids are resilient. You are, too. Kids will learn social skills at home and continue that learning once we're at the other end of this.
Yes, the world will be different. I wholeheartedly believe we will not be going back to the norm before this pandemic. But we will be able to send our kids to school again. We will be eating out again. We will be traveling again. We will adapt to the new normal when this is all said and done.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find out who is screaming. I hope it's not me.
Other personal essays about work culture from the Dialogue team you might like: