I’m not the only one.
I keep telling myself this. I’m not the only one. I’m not the only mom at home trying to work full time with children all around me. Children who vary in ages. Children who are having big feelings right now and who desperately need stimulation and attention.
I have an image in my head of a boardroom and the table is full of colleagues in the middle of a meeting. The topic is complex and it takes everyone’s attention and professionalism to determine a solution and develop action items from the meeting. Then I zoom out a bit and I can see that there are many things also going on in that boardroom. Children are running around, while some are crying or hungry. There’s a washing machine that needs the laundry to be switched over and pets are barking at the door trying to be let out. There’s also a sink in the background overflowing with dishes.
The workers lean in and try to push through the noise and distraction. They’re doing their best, and all of the external things keep piling up. But some progress is made because they work as a team. As the meeting ends, they step away from the table and they begin to calm the children, make snacks and rotate the laundry. They load that dishwasher and take the dog for a walk.
This is the work from home challenge for everyone experiencing social distancing.
Sure, that boardroom is virtual conferencing, but the kids, pets and households are anything but virtual. For working moms, this includes a tender balancing act of keeping everyone as healthy as possible, providing activities or entertainment for the children, trying to maintain the home, and finally, completing professional tasks and meetings, phone calls and messages.
To say that I am lucky to have the opportunity to work from home is an understatement. My employer and work team have been incredibly supportive as we maintain social distancing to stay healthy and flatten the curve. This opportunity has not been without its challenges.
To be candid, I have many fears.
Work Fears: I’m letting my clients down. I’m not able to support my team as much as I normally would. I’ll get behind in my work and never catch up. I’ll fall behind professionally as I try to balance my job and my family.
Mom Fears: We’ll get sick. Our loved ones will catch the virus. My children will fall behind in school. They will have negative memories of this experience. They’ll be negatively affected by staying at home for weeks on end. The dishes or the laundry or the meals aren’t done right or enough. My youngest will miss out on socialization with her peers.
I don’t have an easy answer for any of this.
I don’t know that anyone does. We take this one day at a time. I lean on my amazing husband when I have hit my wall. We pull out every positive and opportunity for a memorable day with the kids. I create random events, activities and theme days to keep them excited and entertained. I email constantly from my phone and deal with screaming kids in the background while I make important calls because they need to be made. Colleagues understand. Clients empathize since they’re home with kids as well.
It is truly a historic time, but it’s also one that reminds us that there is only so much work we can do in a day and we have got to do the best we can with what we have, whatever that may be.
I just know that when I do get back in the office someday, I’ll probably hug my desk. Perhaps other moms will as well!
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