Jobs can be stressful in a normal situation. So, what happens when you combine all the demands of your job with a life-threatening pandemic? And by pandemic, I mean two kids [insert Fozzie saying, “Wocka, Wocka!”] I’m currently working at home, like many people, with my wife and two children (ages 6 and 5) whose schools are closed, due to coronavirus — a brave new world of nonstop to-dos.
I am not a parenting professional or really a professional of any kind for that matter. So our family is trying to figure out how to manage our jobs, house, kids, and own needs simultaneously. While it has been difficult, it has also been a learning experience. Since I’m not qualified to give life advice, take these recommendations with a grain of salt.
One of my early takeaways is to go easy on your expectations and don’t feel too bad about not accomplishing things that fall by the wayside. Typically, we are pretty liberal with letting our kids use screens, but that is because they’ve been at school for eight hours a day, learning, playing, and socializing. So, while we don’t have a specific plan in place for screen time, we have definitely been more strict about when it is time to shut them off. But we’re not going to sweat a day where they’ve been on them longer than usual. Let that digital babysitter take the wheel if you need to.
Our other strategy is making sure we get some exercise, even if it is just a walk. Get everyone outside. Step away from the news, your phone, the paranoia. This is great advice with or without self-quarantine, but often gets forgotten in the daily rigors of life. Even just sitting outside, doing nothing can be very relaxing. I like to awkwardly stare at neighbors.
Social distancing has also taught us to rely more on ourselves for entertainment than the typical daily distractions that can become rote. Yesterday, we threw some Frisbee, drew with sidewalk chalk, played with Beyblades (Think Spinjas, but flatter — I recommend for adults without kids.) did a puzzle, went to the park — things usually relegated to the weekend. “How did you fit all that in your day with all your work?” my boss Lisa is asking herself. Well, mostly before or after with a bit in between.
There’s no right or wrong way to get through this situation, so try a bunch of different things that might work for you. Grab a book or puzzle you haven’t touched in a while. Try a new show. Stare at your neighbor. Sit and listen to the radio like your father did while smoking in bed at 6 a.m. Most importantly, stay positive.
And if worse comes to worse and you need a rest, follow the advice of Fleetwood Mac and "Go your own way."