As I turned the calendar to 2021, I can’t help but marvel at the last nine months. I can’t believe that I’ve been working at home during a pandemic for nine months with two young kids at home. Working from home with kids during COVID is not easy. But, we’ve somehow made it work and for the most part, I’ve kept my sanity along the way. Here are some of the things I’ve found that have helped.
Finding Alone Time
This is probably the hardest and most important thing for me. After being in the house with my husband and kids all day long, plus being in meetings and zooms all work day, I need some quiet and personal time just for me. If I don’t have at least some time to myself each day, I go crazy. To help with this, I run. By myself. Yes, it’s usually early and before anyone in my house wakes up, but to have that hour to myself each day is something I wouldn’t trade. If you’re not a runner, bundle up and go for a walk. Or, a drive. I’ve definitely volunteered to pick up our grocery order when I need a few minutes out of the house by myself.
Staying In Touch With Friends and Family
My husband and kids and I have been pretty serious about staying to ourselves during this time. But, that has meant that we haven’t seen friends or family much — if at all — during the past few months. And now that the weather is cold and cruddy, we know it will be harder. That’s why I’m so grateful to have my weekly Zoom dinners with my parents, and daily text chains with my friends. Whether it’s to vent about something or ask for advice, knowing that I have friends there to respond to my texts at all hours (hey, some of us have kids up at night) is comforting.
As much as I crave personal contact, I also have Zoom fatigue. (It’s a real thing!) So I have unfortunately told friends that no, I couldn’t attend their Zoom happy hour this week. Because after a day of Zoom meetings, sometimes I just can’t bare the thought of sitting at my laptop again and pretending everything is normal.
Having A Dedicated Work Space
Having a place to “go to work” each day, has been extremely helpful. After my kids are up most mornings, I kiss them goodbye and “Mommy goes to work” (albeit upstairs). This wasn’t something that started on pandemic day one — it was something that I learned that I needed to do to help me maintain productivity during the day so that I wasn’t working all night.
Asking For Help
Before quarantine, each week I’d pride myself on planning our weekly meals, doing some meal prep over the weekend, and cooking dinner most nights of the week. Dinner would be ready by the time my husband got home, and we’d all sit down to a pre-planned meal Monday through Friday. Now? I’ve found that I just don’t have the energy to meal plan or prep by the time the weekend comes. And my husband has found that he enjoys cooking as stress relief. So, our roles have swapped. I am no longer cooking dinners and instead, he is the one making the meals that are done when I’m home (or away from my home office) from work. Just this tiny bit of relief in my week has made such a difference in my mental state that I don’t know if I can go back.
Doing Something for Me
Find something that you can do for you each week. Whether it’s the aforementioned walk or run by yourself, or spending a few minutes with a good book, it is so important today more than ever to do something you enjoy. When the weather was warmer, this was going for a walk outside with my family before my workday began or during lunch. Now that winter is here, I’m finding myself cuddled up with a book for a few minutes during the afternoon on the weekends.
Starting New Traditions
While we’ve hated some of the changes brought on by the pandemic, not all of them are bad. We’ve embraced the stay-at-home order and started some new traditions to keep us entertained. For example, Saturday night is pizza/movie night in our house. We make (or order) pizza and eat in the living room. The kids can watch a whole movie (something we don’t typically do) as long as they eat their dinner (yes, I have to bribe my kids to even eat pizza sometimes). It’s not only something we all look forward to all week, but it give us an evening off and a way for us all to relax together.