I’ve read a lot of well-intentioned articles, blogs, and tip sheets the past few however-long-this-thing has been (days? weeks? months? eons? WHO KNOWS?) regarding How To Work From Home(™). Most of them were written pre-pandemic and were only semi-helpful then, 87% of them don’t include trying to work with kids in the equation and so far the ones that do have assumed mountains of privilege, with astoundingly helpful tidbits like: My co-working space with childcare is a GODSEND! That’s my number one tip!
a) fuck you
b) it’s closed now
And homeschooling blogs are written by sincere believers in this barbaric practice and are not at all helpful. Most of these posts, whether it’s super corporate worky work or granola crunchy attachment mama have roughly the same tips in them. Here’s why I think that all of it is bullshit. At least right now.
- Wake up at your normal time! Don’t sleep in! Don’t let your kids sleep in! 99% of the WFH tip blogs I’ve read start with this oh so helpful tip. Here’s the problem with this: This is a trauma and a grief. No one expects you to work through profound traumatic grief and keep your normal productivity levels. My extrovert child has not seen another person her own age in 17 days. She’s SAD. She’s anxious. She’s worried about her immunocompromised grandma, I put her to bed at her normal time (every night because HOLY HELL THESE DAYS ARE LONG) and she sleeps til 9 or 10 and says she’s still tired. No Cheryl. I will not wake her up for an 8 am zoom check-in with her science teacher. Blow me.
- Get dressed in your normal work clothes! – I will (and I cannot stress this enough) FUCKING NOT. I will wear my rainbow Krav leggings and my You Look Pretty When You Sweat yoga tank for my one trip to the end of the sidewalk and back and I will be happy about it.
- a) I look cute AF
- b) I’m comfortable and comfort helps with sanity
- c) NO ONE CAN SEE ME
- Keep to a schedule! Sure okay – I have some semblance of a schedule, there’s a flow and an order, but no schedule or well-intentioned planning can account for the 2 pm extreme meltdown of sadness and worry, and a food schedule is nice and all but does not account for the fact that you are not at all hungry whatsoever for hours/days or must IMMEDIATELY EAT ALL THE THINGS because REASONS.
- Set regular work hours and stick to them! Okay but I’m tired of crafting and I’m not hungry and I can’t sleep and my child finally did go to bed and my husband is recording music to ward off the SPACE MADNESS and emailing my boss at 10 pm to help her with something is kind of nice? Like almost normal even?
- Have a dedicated workspace! ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. haha. ha. That’s a wonderful tip, Deborah! Why didn’t I think of that? I mean I did think of that, but I live in a tiny house with 3 people and 2 cats and now everyone is home all the time and there is. no. space. Plus honestly, a change of scenery is nice. Yesterday I took client calls in my bedroom. I mostly work on my couch. Sometimes the kitchen table, sometimes my daughter’s room because she wants to build legos in the living room. Having a dedicated workspace does, in fact, sound lovely sometimes. But most people who suddenly find themselves stuck at home will not have this privilege so why don’t you recognize yours.
Thanks, well-meaning writer people, but none of this is relevant to our current sitch.
Well GEE Leigh, this has been super helpful so far. What the heck AM I supposed to do then?
- Let. Shit. Go. The first few days of homeschooling adventures I did the recommended schedule and recommended lessons and my child lost her shit every day at 3 pm. Now, when she wakes up whenever the heck she wants to, we eat breakfast and she chooses 2 subjects to focus on. The rest of the day is broken up by reading, drawing, and craft time. Yesterday her afternoon lesson was to clean her room. Winning.
- Be kind to yourself. This is HARD. this is grief, this is trauma. We are scared and maybe broke and most definitely lonely (even if you have a large family, I’d wager 99% of us all have someone we wish we could see in real life right now.) Didn’t do the dishes or make the bed? Didn’t finish your work by 5? Gave up on your whole30? Haven’t worked out since Tuesday? Last Tuesday? It. will. be. okay. I know this feels like forever, but it is not and we will get through it. And even though this feels like the longest time ever, once it’s over it will not matter in the slightest if you let the dishes go an extra day or never once made your bed or ate potatoes at every meal.
- Move. No, you don’t have to get ripped or run till you drop or get in a “real workout” every day or even every other day but get up and MOVE. dance. Stretch. run to the end of the driveway and back. Re-enact the opening of lion king with your cat. It doesn’t matter – just move.
- Hydrate. No beer doesn’t count. Sometimes I have to fill a big cup and stick a straw in it and just make myself drink it until its gone. Drink water. Maybe with fizzies or those awful flavor packets or herbal tea whatever the hell you need to do, just hydrate.
- Rest. You might vaguely remember the “sleep when the baby sleeps” period of the 4th trimester. It’s time to bring this back. I know you think 2pm nap time is prime working hours but it won’t be when you are exhausted. Go lay down. Even if it’s just a few minutes. If you have littles or multiples or more than one young child, let’s face it – sleeping is probably a pipe dream – but I can almost guarantee you there’s something you are forcing in the name of normalcy that you CAN let go of (see point 1), and then you might find a bit time to rest if not actually sleep.
- Breathe. Yeah, I can’t meditate right now either. It is making my anxiety worse, not better. But I can stop what I am doing when I start to get the worry spirals and breathe with attention. If you don’t have a mindfulness practice already, try this: Inhale to the count of 5. Hold your breath for 2. Exhale for 5. Hold for 2. Repeat for as long as you can, as often as you like.
I know this is terrible and scary y’all. Reach out to your mates for a video call and take it one moment at a time. We will get through this.