My once quiet area, free of distraction and interruption, is now the communal space for all child activities.
Over the last three years, I have been blessed to work for a remote company that supports working mothers and understands the constant pressure of balancing both work and family responsibilities. Being able to work from home has consistently given me the opportunity to be present for pickups and dropoffs, family mealtimes and after school hugs without having to sacrifice my career goals.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had found a pretty good rhythm between my work routine and family life. I would make breakfast, get the kids ready for school, drop the older ones off, come back, hand off the younger ones to our nanny, kiss my husband on his way out and start my workday in my home office.
I would occasionally emerge from my cave throughout the day to see what the kids were up to or lend a hand while our nanny did nap time, but for the most part, I got a good solid chunk of uninterrupted work time throughout my workdays.
I am basically a veteran work-from-home mom, so once the coronavirus forced us all to quarantine, I naively thought the adjustment wouldn't be that difficult.
I was wrong.
Homeschooling our children, trading off childcare duties with my husband and trying to maintain the same level of work with all six of us under one roof 24-7 is incredibly difficult. And despite having a decent sized home, what has become most impossible is finding a semi-quiet space for myself to get work done. Or to have a moment of alone time.
My once living room has now been taken over with Legos and coloring books.
My once well-lit space with a nicely designed backdrop for conference calls has been replaced with the headboard in our bedroom.
My once comfortable chair and adjustable standing desk have been replaced with my lap and a bunch of pillows stuffed behind my back.
My once quiet area, free of distraction and interruption, is now the communal space for all child activities. And given the proximity of our bedroom to the living room, I hear every single noise.
Every argument, every screech, every tantrum, every request for snacks, every meltdown over the chosen snack, every nap struggle, every laugh, every question asked and every word from whatever movie is streaming. And the same goes for everyone else during my calls and meetings.
I have become the master of mute, speak, mute, speak, mute, speak. I have become the person who texts my husband from the other room to, "Keep it down, my client just heard you ask our toddler if he is getting all the poop out."
I have become the person who takes calls from the closet, in the car, in the bathroom (not while using it!), in the garage, in the nursery… basically whatever area isn't inhabited with children at that moment.
I have become the mom who swore she would never allow video games or screen time as a distraction, and well, here we are. Thank you Sesame Street and Fortnite for an extra 30minutes of sanity today.
While I understand that our challenges are minuscule compared to those dealing with much bigger issues, and I am grateful I have a job right now, it doesn't make this any less hard.
I am not a veteran work-from-home-during-a-pandemic mom. I'm not sure of the "right" way to do this. I am the mom who is doing her best to survive and I'm doing what I can do to push through this, all while trying to be a teacher, wife, salesperson, chef, housekeeper and peacemaker.
So, to the moms taking calls in your closet, I see you, I am you and this is hard.
You're allowed to feel overwhelmed because you're not getting your work done.
You're allowed to wish you were in an office.
You're allowed to feel frustrated when your calls are interrupted by children who barge in the room and don't understand what's going on exactly.
You're allowed to because this is an impossible burden to carry and we are all feeling the weight. But we will get through this.
So, from my closet to yours, mama, remember—this is new, this is *a lot*, and we are doing our best (which is all we can do.).