Social distancing…with an 8 year old
For the past week I’ve been getting up with my 8 year old son around 6:30AM, which gives us enough time to have breakfast and catch up before I head to the office by 8AM. Like many of you, my commute has been amazingly short these past few days.
About fifteen minutes into my work day…my office door creaks open. It’s as if a tiny ghost has made its way into my home and is following me with the slowest and most benign type of haunting. The knob jiggles, then the door cracks open.
The ghost emerges and he’s pretty adorable, if I do say so.
To be completely, uncomfortably honest, I was pretty discouraged the first few days working from home. By 8:15AM I was already being pulled away from my job – a job I only started two weeks ago and am now trying to grapple with in a time of deep uncertainty.
We’re all doing our best to navigate this new world. A lot of professional norms have been thrown out the window and replaced with – who knows what? Only time will tell what this world will look like. Already I find myself questioning – do I have to dress in business-casual for virtual meetings? Is it okay if my cats run behind me on camera?
I’m just trying to figure this out right now.
Day #1 was a mess: my son would come in multiple times an hour, he needed regular attention, and I wasn’t even settled into this new role. Every meeting I would inevitably have to mute myself and say, through clenched teeth with an unnaturally frozen face, “I’m…on…a…call.”
Day #2 I attempted to provide some consistent scheduling – since my son is currently on spring break, his virtual classes aren’t yet taking up any of his time. I created an hour-by-hour calendar and we filled in the blocks together with fun things to do. It was a great plan that included playdates and the gym but…by the end of that day the schedule was proven useless. Instead, I let him play way too many video games which I am totally FINE with.
Day #3 things started to smooth over. I gave up on keeping to a rigid schedule. I let him play his video games. He got used to my work hours. We ate lunches together. I’d check in on him and he’d check in on me. We quickly learned to roll with the punches as COVID-19 and our precautionary measures continued to progress. It got a lot easier.
Day #4 is where we really hit our stride. By this time I was setting much more realistic expectations for how things might develop, and he was doing the same. We were working together to figure out this new situation and make it work for each of our own goals, schedules, needs, and wants.
The moral of this story? We’re all trying our best here. This transition to remote work can be fun at times, but it can also be incredibly hard and stressful. There’s no one right way to do it – the right way is whichever way allows you to work and take care of your child. This is what has worked for me – maybe it’ll help you too. Please reach out if you have any questions or just want to commiserate!