Last fall, when I wrote my first blog about finding balance between work and my family with young kids, I had no idea that in 6 short months our world would be rocked with a pandemic and our lives would be drastically changed for the foreseeable future. In this edition of Finding Balance, I wanted to share my experience of coming to terms with this new normal and how I accepted that “finding balance” for my family is going to look a little different for a while.
The picture included is a real live shot of the first day I attempted working from home without a sitter. We are very fortunate that our babysitter is willing to continue to watch our kids 4 days a week for now, but it just isn’t safe for grandma to watch the kids on her usual Wednesdays. My husband is an essential employee and is still working outside the house 6 days a week. This was the day I decided that continuing to work on Wednesdays wasn’t a viable option for our family. A quick check of my email and entering my username and password in SharePoint resulted in a pantsless toddler dancing on the kitchen table. I had an “ah-ha” moment when I looked up and saw my kids. I decided to talk with my Program Area Director about flexing my schedule to take Wednesdays off for the time being. I honestly felt extremely guilty having this conversation (which was all on me, my Program Area Director was completely supportive when I brought it up). However, after I ripped the band-aid and we put a plan for flexing my schedule in place, an enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders.
I am still learning how to parent in a pandemic. My kids are completely thrown off schedule, they miss school, activities, their friends, and most of all, their grandparents. Unfortunately, they’re just too young to really comprehend why we need to stay home. Despite all of these changes, we are trying to have some fun and make memories with our kids. The weather is pretty cold and rainy in Michigan right now, so playing outside isn’t always an option. One of our new favorite indoor activities are daytime basement slumber parties. I set up the kids’ sleeping bags on the floor, make a bowl of popcorn, turn off all the basement lights, and pop in a movie of their choice. The kids love it and I get some time to myself upstairs. When we have a chance to go outside, we’ve been writing chalk messages to our neighbors, setting up obstacle courses in the backyard, and having the kids help with spring cleanup. Maybe I’m not able to have those birthday parties we planned for our girls, attend the weddings of a dear friend and a cousin, or watch my daughter in her weekly gymnastics classes. Thankfully, I am able to make memories with my kids in other ways, connect with family through technology, and spend uninterrupted quality time with my husband and kids. My overarching goal, for now, is balancing feelings of uncertainty with feelings of gratitude and looking for the silver lining.