There are at least a few extra things that strike terror into the hearts of working moms more often than not. One of them is the possibility of having to quarantine , with our kids – and partner 🙂 – while still having to work. Yikes!
First off, please know that if you are in this situation right now, I am sending lots of love and supportive vibes your way. It’s hard. And it’s going to be hard for a while so – as always mama- it’s super important to take good care of yourself!
Here are a few things that have worked for other working moms whilst in quarantine. Take what resonate and works, make it yours, and ditch everything else!
No Guilt Trips Allowed
If only that was as easy as writing it! Guilt is not helpful here. And one of the best ways to ditch guilt is to redirect guilty thoughts whenever you become aware of them; think about replacing them with true, helpful thoughts, like a glass half empty vs a glass half full. Remember what is important for you and your household, your WHY. Then focus on it and the rest will adjust.
Spoiler alert. Things are not going to go perfectly during quarantine. That’s OK. You are going to survive and be fine. Your kids and partner are going to survive and be fine. Your houseplants might not survive. :-).
(Try to) Have a Kid-Free Work Zone
As best as you can, set up a space for work where kids – or pets- are not allowed. It might be space at the dining table that is literally taped off, or maybe you shove aside clothes in your closet and set up a desk in there, or wherever else in the house you can still get a phone signal and wifi while separating yourself from the kids. With my kids, I used to start a hide and seek game , with the intention of staying hidden – i.e my dressing closet – long enough for the duration of my Zoom meeting. They discovered my hiding place(s) eventually , but it worked for 3 weeks straight :-). A must try for the working mamas with young kids! Now my favourite hiding place is in my car, they still haven’t realised that I can hide outside the house. Wink.
It’s true that our kids voices know no boundaries (and the mute button is now one of our best friend), but if you can set a space where toys, juice boxes and sticky fingers are not allowed, it will help!
Use it When You’ve Got it
Most working – from – home moms that I know already do this: When your kids are otherwise occupied and engrossed in an activity – being asleep, watching a Disney movie , drawing , talking to friend on Facetime , etc…- use the activity and the peace/quiet time to get stuff done. Don’t forget to take a break . And use part of that break to do something that bring the inner child out in you – Dessert BEFORE a meal anyone? – After all, every day is a wonderful opportunity to create memories with your family.
Don’t Fight Imperfection
Seriously, become friends with imperfection. There are so many things we can’t get right during such a crazy time. If the kids are doing online schooling in the same clothes they’ve worn since they are up – hello cute PJs -, at least they are receiving some education. It’s what goes in their head that counts right?
If you toddler has screamed blue murder because you “didn’t cut the edge of my bread right – insert sobbing here – “ all before 7.30 AM, take comfort int the fact that not only she worked her lungs but she could be a fantastic actress, clutching an Oscar, and it all started in your kitchen!
And honestly, if you need a moment- or two- after the tantrum , or at any point of the day, take it! You are so many roles – mother, teacher, friend, sister, cook, driver, employee, volunteer etc…- rolled into you, but you are also a human first.
Find Some Bliss
Create little pockets of me time – even if it’s 5- 10 minutes – to not be a mom, an employee, boss, partner. Craft some time just dedicated to YOU. Whatever gives you joy, peace, happiness, fulfilment at that exact moment; Reading , having an extra hot shower – or a cold one :-)- , dancing to you favourite soundtrack , heck even singing to it (loud enough so you can’t hear anything else in the house). Nurture your soul, even if it’s for a little while, and make it often enough in the day. You can make it happen!
An essential part of succeeding at uninterrupted bliss is – drum rolls -, getting help! All you have to do is , well ask ! Now being stuck at home, help might look a little different , but the option is still valid. Can your mum Facetime with your child and read them a few stories ? Can your partner corral the kids at the opposite end of the house – i.e away from you – so you can enjoy some quiet time? – Don’t forget to return the favour 🙂 – Or you can go for a walk, run , online exercise class .. Remember it’s what makes YOU joyful, peaceful, happy, fulfilled. And if you are lucky enough to have kids out of the house – at university or living n their own -, you can still create your own blissful moments; They might look different from what a mama of toddlers and young kids need , but you still have to make time for YOU.
There are so many great solutions that moms are coming up with for getting a break and for helping each other out . Ask around to other moms in your circle, join virtual groups or create one!
Have a time every day when you are “done” work, even if you’ll work again after the kids are in bed, or way before they wake up – hello 5 am crew! -. And celebrate your little daily victories. I personally have a Done List and I created a dance routine with my kids that we do at the end of each working day. We celebrate each other achievement and one song counts for one achievement. – we take turn to choose the track -. Let me tell you , some days we have 40 minutes worth of dancing and singing in one go , because her, some days are more productive than others . Noticed I wrote Done List up there? Not a To Do List – with all checks at the end of the day – For me, a Done List is a better way to make sure I have a celebration at the end of each day; I write everything I have done, done, even if it’s getting out of bed and getting dressed. Or making someone smile. Or being part of a project that moved the needle forward. You get the drift. And if you switch to a Done List, do let me know.
Celebrate the end of each workday, the end of each quarantine week, and anything else you can think of that will remind all of you that you’re moving towards the end of this particular craziness.