When I started working from home two years ago, I knew there was no way I could work with my kids at my feet, so they began full-time daycare.
But whenever my kids have an appointment, are sick, or school is closed and my office isn’t, I have a dirty little secret – sometimes they’re home with me while I work.
Pre-pandemic, this always caused me stress...
- Can I adjust naptime by 30 minutes so it falls during my meeting?
- Does my boss notice I’m rushing to get off the phone because I need to find out what my eerily quiet toddler is up to?
- Will anyone be upset if I get the invoices out tomorrow instead of today?
- How many snacks does it take to keep my child quiet for 15 minutes?
Fast forward to quarantine week whatever.
I was on a video call with 50 people, and my four-year-old daughter walked in and did somersaults in a dress, on camera.
This wasn’t the first, or the last, time she made a memorable appearance on a video call with corporate.
I’ve watched my husband, who’s in a similar situation, lead work calls, adding valuable input while also changing our two-year-old’s poopy diaper.
Parents are clearly caught in a balancing act right now.
The “funny” thing is that they always were. Maybe not to these extremes, but the circus was always going on behind the scenes. The difference now is that everyone has a front-row seat to see and hear it.
Parents, our dirty secret is out, and it feels so refreshing.
What would have turned our workweek upside down is now just life. Crying toddlers, babies in highchairs while parents give presentations, siblings fighting in the background, and (insert your own example here).
It’s not perfect, but we do what parents and employees do best – we manage.
I’m getting paid to do my job, and I take it seriously. Yes, it’s easier to work with no kids around, but some days that isn’t reality. I have to believe that when work-life and kid-life go back to “normal” at some undisclosed time (fingers crossed), we’ll all remember that wearing multiple hats doesn’t make us bad parents or bad employees.
In fact, this extra time with our kids can actually make us better at both. We can come out of this more adaptable, empathetic, creative, concise, disciplined – and less concerned about things that really don’t matter.
The truth is, long before this pandemic, many parents were struggling with how to be both loving parents and contributing team members at work.
- Can I get that report wrapped up before I have to bring my kid to practice?
- Do I have time to run a lunch box to daycare before my next call?
- Do her sniffles really warrant me letting her stay home while I try to work on my presentation?
You’re a working parent; this is your reality. But now that everyone knows your dirty little secret, you can let out a sigh of relief – and go a little bit easier on yourself.
My kids have had more screen time than I would like so I can take work calls, and I’ve had to log in early and late to finish reports that I couldn’t wrap up during normal business hours. But my babies are growing so fast, and during their extended time at home, we’ve been able to squeeze in so many more memories. Once we’re back to “normal,” I know I’ll even miss some of this.
So, on days when I feel like I am drowning under the weight of working while parenting, I reflect on these words:
You’re doing an amazing job. Your kids and your company are lucky to have you.