This is going to be fine. Actually, even better than fine, this will be fun. I will put a positive spin on all this negativity going on right now. I am so blessed to get this extra time with my girls.
Those were my thoughts last week when they announced school was closed and that I would be working from home.
One day into the week: “This is not fine.”
I totally should have known this. I mean, I have tried this before — working from home — for one day at a time because of a sick kid here or there. And those single days, even with one sluggish, sick kid, were still hard. And we are not talking about one day. We are talking about weeks.
And these kids are (thankfully) healthy and rambunctious as all get out — especially Reagan. On day one, my firecracker put on five winter hats and a “Frozen” cape and proceeded to run through my house screaming “Boom Shakalaka” over and over again. Because of the noise, my sweet Maylie needed to read her math problem out loud.
Meanwhile, I was trying to concentrate on an email that needed my prompt attention. But don’t worry, Reagan then decided to proclaim she can lick her own armpit. Not only was I grossed out, but I had so many questions. Why? What tempted her to figure that out?
I started with a plan. I even wrote it down on the calendar; hour by hour steps of how this homeschooling and working from home thing would go. We would all sit happily at the dining room table and I would get my work done while they did their schoolwork. We would break for some yoga on YouTube and even add in some chores. Once all that was complete, they could have some time on their tablets.
Ha! Thinking I could have a plan with a feral 4-year-old was about as foolish as thinking I was going to limit my kids’ tablet time during this lockdown. Listen, this is not a drill. And, thankfully, it is not forever. If I am going to get a dang thing done then we need some bending of the normal tablet rules.
But even that only holds my boisterous baby’s attention for so long. And when she gets quiet, it is the first sign that something is going on. Mess after mess after even more mess, the only thing I knew was this was not working.
I successfully failed at being a full-time-working-from-home and homeschooling mother this week. All that meaningful time I thought we would spend together was actually spent as a combination of me correcting Reagan over and over again, attempting to keep Maylie on task and not getting enough work done. In turn, that meant that once Dad got home, I had to spend all evening locked up in a separate room to complete my work.
There was no quality time spent. I was losing my mind and taking my girls with me.
Thankfully, I have the luxury of a sitter who watches my kids by themselves. Feeling guilty, I asked her to take them all day on the third day. I couldn’t do it anymore. Yes, that meant doing a lot of schoolwork with Maylie in the evening, but I was able to complete my work during the day which gave me time to spend on just Maylie for her school work. It also allowed me to have some one-on-one time with Reagan — painting her nails and reading books. Just us two. And instead of correcting her constantly, I could build her up and appreciate her.
This is hard. It is not something we ever planned or prepared for. And, for right now at least, it is sticking around for a bit. It’s a new experience that we have to figure out and that we owe ourselves some grace in doing so.
Maybe my kids will be spending the next couple of weeks watching way too many videos on their tablets and eating chocolate graham crackers three times a day. Maybe they will spend just as much time at the sitters as they would if I were not working from home. And that is OK. All I know is I have to use all the resources I have at hand right now to get through this.
And, God willing, we will get through this. Oh, I am sure I will make mistakes and break my own rules of parenting along the way. But I am hopeful that in the future I can look back at this and know that I did what I needed to do at that time, and my girls turned out just fine.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.