Balancing Life With Kids and Work in a COVID-19 World
APRIL 22, 2020
The world of work changed virtually overnight with the global spread of COVID-19. In this series, we'll share personal stories and perspectives from Cornerstone employees who—like so many of us—are doing their best to balance life, work and learning from their couches, kitchen tables and other makeshift office spaces.
When I received the dreaded notification that schools were officially closed I thought of it as something that would be challenging, but not insurmountable. Being a complete Type-A control freak I had high hopes and even higher expectations for my tiny humans (Oliva, 5 and Jack, 3). I created a reasonable schedule based on a few I’d seen online complete with at-home workouts, academic time, outdoor activities, and what I felt like was a realistic amount of TV time. I dove deep into Pinterest coming up with great art projects and fun things they could do while I was plugging away at work. I was going to tackle this situation head on the best way I knew how: with extreme organization. A few weeks into this quarantine and I can comfortably say I have thrown all my expectations and schedules out the window. Turns out those tiny dictators don’t care about my schedule of activities I confidently posted to the refrigerator a few weeks ago (can you believe it!?).
So now we’re on to plan B: survival mode. Here’s a few things I’m doing to stay sane while I balance work and COVID-19 life with kids:
1) Asking for help
As I mentioned above I thought I could juggle work and kids just fine on my own but quickly came to the conclusion that I could not and needed to ask for help. I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have family members nearby who are in my "quarantine circle" and are willing to take the kids for a few hours every day. I feel awful burdening them on a daily basis but I know it’s what I need to do to make it through this time. It’s not the 7:30AM-5:30PM help I’m accustomed to having – so the struggle is still there to get everything I need done in a day but definitely takes a huge weight off my shoulders.
I also have to remember to ask my husband for help. I’m admittedly awful at this, a self-proclaimed supermom, I try to do it all on my own. But even this is too much for me and we’re in this together. We try to sit down at the beginning of the week and coordinate calendars the best we can, take turns making meals, and entertaining the kids. No one can do this all on their own and it’s important to recognize when you need help (whether physical or virtual) to get you through the day.
2) Managing mom guilt
I mentioned a little bit of the guilt I’ve been feeling handing off my kids to family but in addition to this I have been experiencing extreme mom guilt when it comes to my kids. They’re used to having a full day’s worth of activities while at school which have all been replaced with my #1 babysitter, the television. I realize there are tons of great resources for children’s virtual learning, entertainment and even exercise, but they all have one thing in common: a screen. But all I can do is let go of that mom guilt and do what works best for me. If I need to let them sit with iPads for 3 hours straight so I can get through some conference calls and projects without them bothering me, so be it. We’re all doing the best we can right now and need to continue to grant ourselves grace (and maybe just this once ignore the AAP guidelines on screen time!).
3) Giving myself permission to let go
This is hard. There’s no rule book for this. Some days my kids will be up, dressed, and playing with toys and projects I cutely set out the night before while I sip my coffee and check my email. Other days it’s 3PM, no one has brushed their teeth, we’ve had cereal for lunch, and the only organized activity has been "movie time". And that’s okay. Let it go. (Have I mentioned my kids have made me watch Frozen 1000x?)
4) Carving out time for me
This is probably one of the hardest things for anyone who is dealing with small kids, even when there isn’t a global pandemic going on, but I make it a priority. I can’t be a good mom, employee, wife, or friend, if I’m not able to take a little bit of time during the day to do something for me. Lately that means taking the dog on a walk around the block (by myself), getting in some exercise, or even waking up earlier than anyone and heading downstairs to watch a reality tv show in peace. Whatever that moment looks like for you – make sure you take it.
In conclusion – I have no idea what I’m doing. No one does and that’s okay. I take solace in the saying "nothing lasts forever". Try to take everything day by day and we’ll soon be looking back on this crazy time and appreciating the strength we didn’t know we had.
Sara Schonfeld is a senior marketing manager at Cornerstone.
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