We’ll still do what we have to — because we’re parents — but it really is that bad and it’s okay to admit it.
Does COVID-19 life and working from home with your kids feel downright impossible right now?
Are your kids also raiding the pantry at all hours of the day? Are you scheduling phone calls while hiding in your bathroom and even then, the children are knocking on the door? Does “sitting down” to work look more like answering emails with one hand or trying to type with the baby climbing all over you?
And while one could argue that this new way of working from home with kids is temporary and that’s why it’s so hard, I’m here to tell you the truth — it’s not you, or the situation, or the kids being out of school.
It’s because working from home with kids is downright impossible.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the truth — I’ve been working from home with kids for 12 straight years and in that time, I’ve gone from working with one baby (impossible) to three (super impossible) to four kids all 6 and under (so impossible I once threw out my back and had to call in a babysitter to help me get out of my chair) to now: five kids (#helpme).
And in all that time, the one constant that has never changed is how downright hard it has been.
I say this not to discourage anyone currently working from home for the first time with kids, but to let you know that truly, it’s not just you, or your kids — it’s just that hard.
Being thrown into suddenly working from home with the added stress of a global pandemic, being expected to virtually school your kids, and the fact that even shopping for groceries these days feels exhausting, it’s important to realize that working from home is hard in normal circumstances — and you’re not working from home under any sort of “normal” circumstances.
I hope that any parent struggling can give themselves a moment to realize how truly impossible the situation they’re facing right now is.
It’s not hard because you have unruly kids or because you need a better schedule or you just need to get up earlier to get your work done. It’s hard because it’s hard, period. And it’s even harder right now.
I can say with all honesty that even as an experienced work from home parent, no day is ever perfect.
I have the advantage of years of practice navigating working from home with kids, along with years of “training” my kids to understand that when mom is at her computer, she’s working.
I know — from hard-earned experience — what schedule works best for us, when to pull back from work if the kids are being unruly, and what to do when I’m on a deadline and the kids are revolting.
In a lot of ways, I know what to expect.
I know that the baby will refuse to nap the same day I really, really need her to nap. I know that the kids will burst into my office the second I settle them down with that perfect craft I spent hours finding on Pinterest that I was convinced would buy me an afternoon but actually they finished it in 2 minutes and now I have a mess to clean up.
I know that they’ll all take turns coming in to ask me questions or show me a picture they finished coloring, or just for a quick hug — and that after two hours of constant interruptions, my patience will grow thin because I just want to finish one complete thought and WHERE IS YOUR FATHER?
I know that these things will happen, so when they do happen, I’m not derailed and exhausted by them. They’re not surprises to me, and because of that, they don’t completely sidetrack my day.
I can prepare for them. I can plan — or at least try to — for the interruptions and the frustration and the no-nappers.
I can take a break when I feel myself about to lose it, because I know, from experience, what happens when I don’t.
I have tools and years of experience to fall back on.
But for many of you? This is all totally new.
And perhaps more importantly, it’s also totally new for your kids. Your kids only know that you’re home, yay! It’s playtime! It’s snack time! It’s read-a-book-for-the-80th-time or bug Mom to play on her phone again time!
Your children’s entire world has been turned upside down, and that’s confusing and hard and overwhelming, and they don’t understand that when you’re sitting right beside them, you’re not actually available to play with them.
And I’m sure if you Google, you’ll find all kinds of tips about how to make working from home with kids better, or manage your time more effectively, or be more productive, but I’m not even going to bother to tell you any of that, because honestly, the only real way to get through is to just figure it out as you go.
But what I will tell you is that if you’re struggling to work from home with your kids right now, please remember it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent or a bad employee.
It just means that it’s hard.
And fortunately, for all of us going through it right now, you’re also not alone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a failed craft to go pick up while I pray that the baby will actually nap today.
Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer and a newly minted mom of five. She writes about everything from finance to health to how to survive those early days of parenting when all you can do is think about all the sleep you aren’t getting. Follow her here.