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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.

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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.).

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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