Parenting and Working—the Ultimate Juggling Act
For some of us, working from home is just another day in the office, albeit in sweatpants. But for those of us with young children at home, it’s a major unexpected adjustment. Like many, several weeks ago, my wife and I suddenly had to adjust to having a four year old and a ten year old in the office. COVID-19 is scary, there is no question, but try working with a four year old, dressed as Superman running around, jumping and screaming “I CAN FLY!, I CAN FLY” or my ten year old, asking me to check her math homework…let’s just say modern math is really different than how I remember it. Ouch! I’ve always wanted to spend more time with the family, but even I have to admit this is more than I bargained for. It’s not even a question of what is more important, work or children, but we do have to seek balance. The juggling act is certainly challenging.
So, what do we do, and where do we start each day? Good question. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, as we are still learning each day. For my wife and me, the key has been setting a schedule for each day and following it…as best as we can.
Yes, unexpected things will happen. On a recent conference call, I suddenly found myself having to break up a fight my kids were having. My staff meetings don’t normally involve figuring out who ate the last cookie. In many recent virtual meetings, we can hear children in the background laughing, crying or screaming. You may have already seen this hilarious video of a professor being interrupted by his young children during a TV interview. When unexpected things like this happen, there’s nothing we can do but laugh! Early on, I learned to post a note on my office door before each call letting my kids know that I am busy along with some answers to their most common questions.
When all else fails, we call grandma (“Mama”), for some fun via FaceTime. It is true that grandparents know best and always have time for their grandchildren when everyone else is too busy.
Like you, we’re working to accept this new reality and enjoying time with our kids as much as we can while not losing focus on our work. The Business Insider recently published a useful article from a work-at-home mom with ten tips on how to achieve the juggling act of kids and work.
We’ll all get through this! Life is full of surprises and often we are faced with situations that are out of our control, like COVID-19. I am a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason, and, regardless of the situation or circumstance, there is always something to learn from each situation. For me, the last month has taught me patience, valuing time with my family and, most importantly, that a smile :) and a hug go a long way.
I know in time, the health crisis will be over, and I’ll treasure this extra time I had with my wife and my kids. But for now, I’m learning to juggle.