By Lisa Heay, Marketing Planning Manager at Heinz Marketing
Josh’s latest Heinz Marketing blog post on the 10 Tips to Quarantine with Your Partner inspired me to write a post of my own based on my situation. His tips are so great, don’t get me wrong, but if you have kids like me, you might be thinking “Surrreeeeee, there is SO much time to pick up a new hobby or binge watch 15 seasons of Survivor!”
Image posted by Scary Mommy (via @R_McDonald91 on Twitter)
I have two little boys under 6, and suffice to say, free time is at a minimum on a good, normal day. But in quarantine? It’s intense to say the least. I didn’t realize how much I valued the 2 days a week I went to the gym by myself, or my commute where I was able to listen to an audiobook or my favorite podcast. Those little moments add up and fill my tank more than I ever realized before.
If you’re trying to manage working from home and parenting/teaching duties right now, here are some things that I’ve found to be most helpful as my family and I have bumbled through the last 6 weeks.
Make a schedule
I wish I’d gotten my act together sooner on this one, but it’s been a game changer. Once the school district announced remote learning, we knew we were in trouble. On one hand, having someone tell me what to keep my kids busy with during the day was great. But putting it into practice was another thing entirely.
This sums it up perfectly:
Image posted on Instagram by Scary Mommy
We tried the first week to continue working all day and help when we could, but we were getting interrupted about every 8 seconds with questions—“I don’t understand x…”, I can’t find y…”—resulting in both my husband and I feeling frazzled, tense, and unproductive on all fronts.
It just flat out wasn’t working, so we decided to split up our days into shifts. My husband would focus on work in the morning and I’d help/entertain the kids, and he’d take over in the afternoon. I moved all the meetings I could so that my mornings were clear, and I’ve been working as much as I can in the afternoons.
The results have been amazing. Happy kids as they’re getting the attention they need plus focused and uninterrupted work time for us. It’s been a win-win.
Clear out the noise
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been inundated with information since this all started. Every email subscription I’ve ever been part of has sent me something on the pandemic and what they’re doing as a result of “these uncertain times”. News sites, community information, work, school, daycare—then there are friends and family reaching out to commiserate, which I love – I can commiserate with the best of them, but at the end of the day I’m overwhelmed with everything that is demanding my attention right now.
I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of emails in the last 6 weeks in order to cut out some noise and focus in on the communications and information I care about. I’ve unfollowed some folks on social media. And I’ve allowed myself to check in on the news only once a day. There is a lot of bad news out there and though I don’t want to just turn a blind eye, I need to structure the time I allow myself to catch up with the world.
Make time for yourself
This one is so important but one I fully admit I’ve neglected the most. If you’re a parent of small children you know that you often can’t even go to the bathroom without company. Even if it’s going to sit on my bed and look at Instagram, I try to get away for a few minutes of alone time each day. Often it ends up in me staying up way too late to watch TV and drink a glass of wine, but to me, it’s time well spent.
Take care of yourself
Like above, but a little different. Here I’m talking hygiene. Listen – I’m not here to judge you for wearing sweatpants every day and not showering as often as you did before, because seriously, if you’re wearing jeans right now, you’re a crazy person. I’ll admit I let days go by between showers at the beginning of all this. I won’t admit exactly how long, but I’ll tell you, when I got myself back in and clean, it really felt refreshing. You don’t have to put on pants (unless you’re on a Zoom call reporting for Good Morning America), but make it a point to wash your face, change those sweatpants, drink enough water, brush your teeth and hair, and shower more than just a few times per week. When you feel good physically, it helps your mood, too. Your family will thank you (for that and for the showering bit…)
With everything going on, making time go outside or take a walk is hard. I have less free time now than I did before Covid-19 but being in the sun and breathing fresh air is an instant mood booster.
Give your kids (and yourself) some grace
It’s a scary time, and nerves are fried. Moods are up and down, and everyone is grieving normalcy in their own way. Allow yourself and your kids some space to process emotions and be quick to apologize and forgive when necessary.
Image by @happymumhappychild
Communicate your needs
It’s taken me some time to figure this one out, too, but it’s a game changer. I’d been feeling down about not exercising, but also wasn’t doing much to change my situation. Working full-time, remote learning, dishes, laundry, and so on doesn’t leave a lot of extra time. So I thought. I told my husband I needed some alone time to go for jogs and that’s all it took. He didn’t know I needed it because I hadn’t said anything. We worked out a plan where we each get that time every other day. He needed it, too, apparently.
Throw your screen time rules out the window
Do I love that my kids watch more TV and movies now than ever before? No. Am I so freaking thankful for Nick Jr. and YouTube Kids? YES. Let’s be honest – it’s guaranteed time you have to focus on other things when the kids can watch something. If it’s any consolation, I spent entire summers in the 90’s with my parents ignoring me as I sat and watched the The Price is Right and Supermarket Sweep and I turned out to be a fairly well-adjusted adult (I think). It’s not forever—they’ll be fine with some extra screen time.
Stop and appreciate the time
I haven’t had this kind of time with my kids since my maternity leaves. What I am realizing right now that as crazy and hard as this is, we’ve been given time with our kids that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’ve made banana bread and played soccer in the backyard. We’ve played board games and taught my 4-year-old how to ride a bike without training wheels. We’re building memories we’ll have for a lifetime.
I asked my 6-year-old the other day if he misses school and without hesitation, he said no. “I like being home with you, Mommy”. Commence ugly cry now.
Enough said. This is a situation we cannot control. But we can control how we react to it and what we make of our time stuck at home. Don’t forget to throw some fun in when you can!
I love my family, but I won’t lie – I’m envious of all of you out there able to veg out and take a breather right now. And I am so thankful for all of you on the other side of the coin—those of you physically going to work each day to provide essential services for the rest of us. There aren’t enough thank yous in the universe for you and I am thankful to have the ability to stay home safe because of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
But if you’re a working parent during this time, know that you’re not alone. We’ll get through this together with coffee, wine, and memes. Stay strong!
Image posted by realtoughdad on Instagram