Working from home with kids during a global pandemic

Chris Esh

My kids’ school closed down on Friday the 13th and it’s been JOURNEY since then. I want to talk to all you other working-from-home parents out there.

Your kids have interrupted video calls, torn up the house and tested your patience. You almost find your focus before you need to stop to go wipe somebody. You ran out of creative ideas to keep them entertained on day 5 of this. You put them in front of a screen because you need to work or you need to rest.

All those beautiful ideas about limiting screen time were a lot easier when other adults could watch our kids for at least part of the time…

It’s heavy to hold the fear and sadness of what’s about to happen. But then you have these trusting little eyes staring up at you and you remember to keep your shit together and remind them—but mostly yourself—that it’s all going to be OK. We’re OK.

There are beautiful parts of this too, as I’m sure you’ve noticed as well. With so many distractions, routines, and social obligations stripped away we’re left with a lot more quality time with our kids. I’m pretty sure I’ll look back fondly on this aspect of life under the coronavirus.

And I love how family life has spilled over into our professional lives. I used to be so embarrassed when a phone call from my home office got interrupted by a whining five-year-old, now it’s happening to everybody. And it’s delightful! Please don’t apologize. We used to wear out professional masks all the time around each other, but now, like it or not, we’re showing up all human and everything, unmuted as we negotiate with the toddlers who don’t give two shits about this conference call. I do hope this more integrated culture of personal and professional lives on after this period is over.

There’s a perfectionist in me that wants to use this period to crush it. I want to help my business thrive, educate my kids, stay in shape, and deepen my spiritual life. A few weeks in, it’s clear these goals failed to account for the time and energy to be a parent, in addition to the emotional toll the state of the world takes on us. So I’m trying to figure out how to give myself grace. To do my best but drop the unrealistic expectations. It’s really OK if you didn’t produce anything or achieve anything noteworthy.

And if both kids are sobbing simultaneously over some dumb shit to chuckle at the absurdly of parenting. When I’m exhausted after another day of non-stop work and parenting, trying to breathe in solidarity with all of the other people—parents and non-parents alike—who are exhausted, overwhelmed and confused but who made it through another day. And in this crazy world, that’s a win.

You’re keeping multiple humans alive and sane during a global pandemic. Maybe that’s good enough. Let’s reset our standards.


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