The year has been a total surprise, the cliché “Expect the Unexpected” should have been our presumption when we welcomed and cheered “Happy New Year!” on the eve of January 1st of 2020. I still think it didn’t give us enough warning about what 2020 really brings. Despite all the crazy things that happened, there are good things to balance it all up. I am thankful, grateful, and blessed that my family is in good health, we have food on the table, there’s work to be done and I have friends that are for keeps.
I have here things that working moms can relate to that covers our day in the life, and I love being able to share it with you. I wanted to write this to let you know that you’re not alone in experiencing challenges, a number of hiccups while winning small celebrations as well.
The most famous acronym this year is work-from-home (WFH) and I would probably be using it as often as needed in this short article. And remember that right now, we are not just working from home — we are working from home during a crisis. My realizations for almost 8 months now are:
Co-working space works for Parents on WFH status & kids with Online Classes
I see this time as an investment in our relationship with our kids in terms of closeness and intimacy. Now, we spend more time with each other compared to the pre-covid days when parents spend more time in the office and on the road while the kids spent more time at school. We set up our own sides from the four corners of the family room, which is also a cost-saving initiative too in terms of the use of electricity :-).
We see to it that we still have breaks from virtual classes and zoom work meetings that sometimes lead to quick snack time and laugh time. We panic when there’s an intermittent internet connection, we laugh for mundane zoom scenarios (classmates going to the washroom forgetting to mute, talking on mute, camera on with jammies, etc.), and we are there for each other for disappointments or frustrations on a day to day basis.
Share the chores with the family
It is definitely stressful to be thinking of work and chores all at the same time. So, I believe that both parents and the kids should take turns in doing household chores even though it’s draining. We see to it that we all find time to clean the house, though the kids do not really participate in washing the dishes. They now know how to change their bedsheets and pillowcases, they are in charge of cleaning all the electric fans regularly and doing the vacuum when needed. I stick to cooking, washing the dishes, clothes, and basically just keeping everything in order. While the dad takes care of the cars, house maintenance (whatever it is that men do), helps in cleaning too (he’s far better at cleaning stuff than me haha), and makes sure the internet is always working.
Beyond that, we all need to be honest and feel tired sometimes with everything that’s going on so we spend weekends differently, Saturdays for movie marathons, general cleaning, and Sundays hearing mass and as a rest day if we can.
What’s Important: Self Care and Avoiding burn out
This is not the time to be hard on ourselves. I purposely leave my weekends free of work (unless of course there are emergencies). Weekends are for exercise, having a “ME” time, pampering, and really just living for a chill and relaxing weekend. We need to be generous and kind to ourselves, this one I always say to my husband and the kids. Because sometimes they take it very seriously. It’s not fair for our body to be stressed 24/7 every day of the week. This is the only way we are going to survive the pandemic and avoid being burned out. So, yeah give ourselves a chance to breathe, to be found, and to be cared for.
And when things get hectic at work and we’re on the verge of being in a toxic place, learn to slow down. I once read somewhere that we need to feel grounded to ease the feeling of anxiety. Count from 5 to 1, start to look around you and find five (5) things you can see, four (4) things you can touch, three (3) things you can hear, two (2) things you can smell, and one (1) thing you can taste. This works for me every time, I hope it works for you too.
Remaining Connected When “face to face” Is Not an Option
Virtual meetings are not only for work, it is also OK to do this with family and friends. We call it “virtual meet-ups”, “e-Numan” (Filipino word for drinking), “zoom party”, “hangouts”, or whatever online app we are using with video conferencing feature is where we should go to continue building our relationships. Face-to-face contact is probably the best but when it’s impossible, phone calls are next best, even video calls too. There are a lot of ways that will help us bond, personally, just hearing another person’s voice makes me happy :-).
Be intentional in keeping in touch, maybe by phone, text, email, video calls, learn new technology, and make use of social media and other online options to stay connected. It’s not the end of the world, we might not be able to pat each other on the back for a job well done or give a hug when it’s needed but we are now given tools to make each other feel that we are present and that we’re here to support each other. There are a lot of other things we can do with family and friends, let’s just wait a while to be physically present, surely it will come sooner than later.
Remember that we are all in this together – you are not alone. Now, more than ever, we need to find creative ways to stay connected. This is temporary, the COVID-19 outbreak is temporary – this too shall pass. Let’s be hopeful and be thankful still.
Gratitude is important, we have to be thankful, grateful, and feel blessed. If you are together now as a family and in good health, I encourage you to recognize the treasure in the simple - a hug, a breath of fresh air, a sunrise, a sunset, a warm bed, a hot meal, and a healthy body.
So from one WFH Mom to all the WFH Moms out there, I salute you! Let’s grow a grateful heart, live simply, and take it one day at a time.