The majority of us are coming up on our first full week of self-isolation. I’d love to ask how that’s been going for all of you, but I’m not so sure I want to know that answer! Each household finds themselves in a unique situation right now, but we are all home for the foreseeable future with our kids, and most likely our spouse. For those families that have someone in the healthcare industry, first off thank you! It’s not only scary, but also another factor to consider as you care for both your spouse and your children. You guys are heros!
For another group of you that may or may not be used to being home, but are now adjusting to having your kids home, it likely feels like a whirlwind every day. Just me? We are being smothered with charts and resources and crafts and games and all sorts of tools to utilize as we venture into this temporary world of homeschooling. All of which I am quite thankful for because this is brand new territory for me and I need all the help I can get! Many of you have started up online schooling which is headed our way next week, and honestly I like my idea of ‘pretend’ school better! Some parents have schedules laid out, others are just enjoying time home and keeping it low-key during this time off. I’m somewhere in between, enjoying some loose structure in the mornings and allowing the kids to be free outdoors in the afternoon. Wherever you fall, it’s fine! Do what works for your family in this crazy, uncertain territory. You won’t find any judgement here.
As many of us have had all eyes on our kids and the abrupt shift in their lives, I’m not sure anyone was prepared to adjust work schedules and welcome one (or both) spouses home. Not only do the children need to be cared for (oh yes, and schooled), but many parents are now adjusting and learning how to work remotely from home. I can imagine the strain that this may be causing on relationships, because we’ve been there.
Jack has been working from home for 10 years now and I’ve managed to keep a flexible schedule that has allowed for me to essentially remain a stay-at-home mom as well. What works as a fairly well oiled machine now, wasn’t always the case. Jack first started working from home shortly after our first child, Jack, was born. At the time we lived in a 700 sq ft apartment which basically forced him to use an office space just down the street. When we made the move from Hoboken, NJ to State College, PA we finally had the space which allowed him to stay home. Sounds great, right? As many of you are likely experiencing right now, that’s not really the case! I’m not going to take sides on this matter, because all roles are vital, but it’s going to be very important, (for everyone’s sake) that you find a system that works for you. Kids need to be cared for and those that are able to work remotely need to have a space to best make that happen.
Jack and I wanted to share some tips that have taken us years to figure out in an effort to help ease some strain for you guys!
- BE FLEXIBLE AND SHOW GRACE TO ONE ANOTHER: First things first; it’s hard on both of you! One of you will need quiet while the other cares for the kids. And kids are not quiet. Flexibility and grace on both ends are key. Do your best to designate areas that will be for work/school/play etc. Maybe basements or bedrooms start serving as multi-purpose areas for these next few weeks. It’s also important to implement a system where everyone knows when a parent is on a conference call. A sign or simple sticky note could easily work. Jack simply locks his office door so that the kids don’t barge in ;) It’s also key to let the kids know early on that mom or dad has work to do, it’s not a free for all just because they are home right now. This is the reason Audrey always wants to know when it’s the weekend and dad is no longer off limits :) Jack also recommends noise cancelling headphones if you happen to have them. They can be a sanity saver!
- SET A WORK SCHEDULE: It took us a while to learn this, but coming up with a working schedule for Jack made a huge difference for us. I needed to know when he was ‘on’ and ‘off’ the clock so that I wasn’t being a burden to him asking for normal household help (hey, can you go wipe Audrey’s bum in the bathroom) when he was in ‘work-mode’ but happened to be in the kitchen grabbing a snack. This is all the more relevant when there aren’t necessarily required office hours. His schedule has worked into being 8-5:30pm and he knows that I’m watching the clock every minute after ;) During the summer months, he’ll try to take a lunch break with all of us when he’s able which is nice. But otherwise, the kids (and I) know that Daddy is off-limits.
- ASSIGN HOUSEHOLD DUTIES: If both spouses are home, then there is more of everything happening. More food, more dirty dishes, more paperwork, and overall just more stuff. During one summer years ago, Jack knew I was feeling overwhelmed with all the tasks that I had to keep up with. He asked if he could take on some of the daily responsibilities I was juggling and you would not believe what a relief that was for me. Dishes and making our bed were the two main things that he took over and has done (especially when the kids are home) for the most part ever since. If you saw me joking on my Instagram stories the other day, I lovingly refer to him as my ‘dish fairy’ :) He makes sure that all of the dishes are loaded into the dishwasher post-breakfast and before he starts work and does the same during his quick break for lunch. He does make quite a mess at lunch, lol, but I can’t complain since he almost always has it wiped down afterward. He also takes care of making our bed in the morning which I greatly appreciate. These may not sound like much, but for me they were triggers that would immediately overwhelm me if I walked into a house with three kids, grocery bags in hand and a kitchen that was flipped upside down. Taking on those small tasks has honestly saved my sanity every now and then. You’ll have to assess your own household and situation to see how tasks and responsibilities can be divided, but my hope is that you’ll come to an agreement and end up appreciating one another instead of having to whisper nasty comments under your breath. Don’t worry, I never did that ;)
Oh and guys, I’m sorry to report that we still aren’t perfect! Just the other night I lost my temper after dinner because Jack wasn’t acting present during dinner time. Like he has nothing else on his mind, right?! So take these tips to heart and remember to show grace and love one another. Because how are we to love our neighbors during all of this if we have turmoil happening within our own walls. Love and praying for you all! If you have any specific questions or prayer requests, please leave them in the comments <3