If you would have told me there was going to be a global pandemic in January I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
66 days ago, most of the major sports leagues all decided to suspend play, which directly affected my job. 64 days ago our government opted to close daycares as cases of COVID-19 in our province slowly started to rise. 63 days ago I began the journey of working at home with our two young kids.
While it seems everyone on social media without kids is taking up new hobbies, deep cleaning their houses, and binge-watching everything on Netflix; I’m here looking at my disaster of a house and wondering how the heck I’m going to keep up. I do appreciate all the extra time with my kids, but man I have never been more exhausted!
Let me give you a glimpse into life right now, and what it’s really like to work from home with young kids…
Days are long
My husband and I are fortunate that we both still have jobs. They are allowing us to be flexible to work around our kids which is really great. My first day working from home while my husband was still at the office did not go well. Every time I needed to take a conference call, the kids acted out. My youngest child didn’t nap well and I got nothing done because one or both of them were stuck to me. My husband came home and I cried. I had no idea how I was going to do this!
We ended up settling on splitting the days in half – one of us work in the mornings and the other works in the afternoon. Then we spend half the day with the kids. The person who’s with the kids in the afternoon decides on dinner for the evening and prepares it. We all eat dinner together and when we put the kids to bed, we both go back to work. It makes for a long day, but we’ve found our groove and it’s working for us!
The house is a constant disaster
My kids literally empty their toy bins every single day. Even though the living room is littered with toys, there seems to be only one that they fight over. When the kids were at daycare, they wasn’t enough time before breakfast or after dinner to make a big mess. After dinner I’d straighten out the house and make the living room look presentable for the next day. Now that everyone is home 24/7, I rarely have the energy to pick up and put everything away. Yes, I know the kids should be putting it away and sometimes they do! But they take so long that sometimes I feel like it’s easier to just do it myself…but then get too tired to actually do it.
It’s harder to find time for self care
In January I wrote a blog post about a working mom’s guide to work/life balance. Since working from home, I have been finding it a little harder to take my own advice! I was very busy at work between January and March, so I didn’t take any vacation days for me. Now that I’m at home, it’s pretty much impossible to get much alone time. I am having trouble figuring out my priorities and deciding what to get done!
On the weekends, my husband and I have started to discuss what we each want to accomplish, and then give each other the time to do so. This has definitely helped!
The kids are acting out more
It must be hard being a kid during this pandemic. You leave daycare on a Friday and don’t go back. There’s no hugging grandma, your friends, or getting to spend time with anyone other than Mom and Dad. You want to play every second of the day but Mom and Dad are exhausted and/or working and may not be able to always give you one on one attention. And you don’t understand why you can’t go to the playground, the swimming pool, or why your last hockey practice was cancelled.
Thankfully our five year old seems to have a basic understanding. Our two year old however definitely doesn’t understand social distancing. The kids are getting a little stir-crazy and there have been more tantrums than normal. It is mentally draining! My husband and I have really had to focus on the fact that they don’t know how to express our emotions like we do. There are times we want to be grumpy too!
Screen time has gone up
I can’t help it, screen time has gone up. My kids rarely get the iPad but the TV is on cartoons all day. Thank goodness our television provider is letting us go over our internet because we’ve been watching a ton of Netflix and Disney+! My 5 year old also gets an hour or so of video games a week which allows my husband to get his work done and me to have an hour here and there in peace and quiet while my two year old naps. At least the kids like some educational shows like Superwhy!
There is a silver lining…
Don’t worry, there are good things that have come out of being at home more often!
We are still following our routine (mostly)
- Our 2 year old still (mostly) naps at the same time as he would normally, and the kids are still going to bed around the same time. We let them sleep as long as they want in the mornings, but they are still usually up before 7. We eat all of our meals together and the kids get a snack between meals like they do at daycare.
We’ve come up with some fun new family activities
- Every night we have a dance party in my five year old’s room, and we rotate who gets to pick the song. We’ve even created our own dance moves! On Sundays the kids wear pj’s all day, and we’ve had some movie afternoons complete with popcorn! On Easter Sunday, since we couldn’t get together with family we made a fancy dinner and all wore onesies!
We’ve upped our meal planning/meal prepping game
- Before the pandemic happened, we had been doing many small grocery shops to grab stuff for dinners. We had a deep freeze full of items that we weren’t taking a look at because dinners were so rushed. Now that we are trying not to go out when we don’t have to, we keep lists on the fridge for all the places we usually shop, and mark down things we need as we need them. We only go to the grocery store when the list gets full. Daily, we now go into the freezer and take out something for dinner and use what we already have in our fridge. Our kids are trying new dinners (which sometimes goes over well and sometimes doesn’t) and it is easier to go longer without going to the grocery store.
We love seeing our kids grow
- Our two year old’s vocabulary was always pretty good, but we’ve really seen it flourish in the last couple months. The kid talks non-stop! Our five year old is also a pretty smart cookie. He has a fantastic imagination and he’s definitely getting better at negotiating when he wants something…ha!
Of course, this is only my experience and I can’t speak for everyone. In the end, it’s definitely a challenge but there are some positives to take out of the last two months. Spending more time with our kids is a blessing and they make us laugh every day. Not to mention if you asked them if they were having fun with Mom and Dad, I think they’d say yes! I give major props to teachers, daycare staff and stay at home parents – you guys are all awesome!
If you know a parent that’s been home with their kids for two months, make sure you check in on them! Or drop off some wine at their door, or come over for a social distanced visit when the kids go to bed. I can almost guarantee you they’ll appreciate it! And maybe try not to mention that you’re bored… 🙂
Have you had to work from home with young kids since the pandemic started? How are you managing? Would love to hear your tips for getting through this! We’re all in this together.