Working from home seems like a dream come true until it actually happens.
My two-year-old daughter has just thrown my phone across the room. I felt so defeated when I heard the sickening crack of the glass breaking. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I had taken a quick break to sing along with her for a few minutes as she bounced happily on the bed. She was giggling and I was smiling. This was work-life balance, I thought. It felt golden. Then as I was preparing art materials for her to get busy with so I could go back to my writing, she spies my phone, and decides to send it airborne.
The Manila-wide quarantine has forced many mothers to work from home. It’s a privileged set-up, as not all have work and not all have the luxury of being able to stay at home during these precarious times. But this has its own set of challenges, especially for moms who had their routines down pat, putting their work hats on from 9-6 and wearing their mom hats the rest of the day. The new circumstances can result in a lot of frustration. How can we deal?
You are not going to get it all done—not all the time anyway and not in the way you want it. Welcome to parenthood. Something will always give.
Work and home demands constantly intrude on each other, especially when young children are thrown into the mix. Accept the things that you can control and those that you cannot—ie, when your child decides he needs to sing Old McDonald during your conference call.
Tip: Naps are golden. If you can, build your work schedule around your kid’s nap time.
Pass on the Guilt
It’s 4 PM and you glance up: your child is in garden with her nanny, playing with bubbles and having a wonderful time. Your heart aches. You should be there, not talking to Karen from Accounting. On the other hand, you could also be handing in subpar report because you weren’t able to give your work your 100%.
It’s okay. We’re not always able to give our full focus at work (let’s be real) and we’ve missed many beautiful moments from our kids. There’s always the next day and there will be other equally beautiful moments.
Tip: open up about your challenges to your boss and to your household. It won’t fix things, but at least they will have a better idea of where you are coming from.
Ask For Help
If you are nanny-less, sit down with your partner and create a realistic and flexible schedule. Communicate. If you have a scheduled conference call, maybe it’s better he be the one in the playroom with the kid or the one cooking lunch. Remind him—and yourself—that it takes a village.
Also, when the going gets tough, prioritize. Do you want a pristine living room now or a report sent in by 5? Do you spend your precious little energy left folding the laundry or cooking dinner? Make a choice.
For those with nannies, it is infinitely easier. But like in our case, the nanny suddenly had to be cleaner and cook as our stay-out maid was quarantined. My husband and I had no choice but to step up and take our share of the housework and time with the kid. No, it’s not going smoothly. There are days when I contemplate divorce or boarding school, but for now, we have to get by.
Tip: Screen time isn’t evil. Keep it to a minimum, but don’t discount the power of Peppa Pig. As a bonus, your kid may adopt an adorable British accent.
Give Yourself A Break
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break. Reach out to friends and catch up. Watch your ASMR YouTube video of choice. Avoid social media. Gaze longingly at Vico Sotto’s beautiful face. Take a long, hot bath. Sleep. If you think your mental health is down, seek help from professionals. There are many now being advertised.
We are living in extraordinary times and having to raise children adds urgency and volatility to the mix. No one is really sure what is going to happen next or how it will all end.Yes, now is the time to fight for life, but part of it is also letting ourselves rest—physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually if you’re so inclined. Just in case in you’ve forgotten, please take care of yourself. It’s the best way you can take care of other people, too.