Amidst social distancing, parents and kids are tasked with an unusual situation: working in tandem with each other at home. There’s a lot to learn here, in fact, I’m still learning every day. But let me preface this by saying we are OK, actually, we’re thriving!
My kids have always known that I work from home. I’ve done it since they were born. I started a virtual healthcare communications company, Pascāle, fifteen years ago; we do PR and social media marketing for anything ranging from pharmaceuticals to medical devices to health and wellness, but I digress. Of course, every company hasn’t had as easy of a transition to WFH. While clients and friends are struggling to adapt to this new life and not being in a brick-and-mortar office, I’m thankful to be ahead of the curve. When my three kids got added into the mix, I knew they already have a basic understanding of my job as an entrepreneur—they have seen me take a call at an atypical hour or glimpse of my work at my home office. With that being said, I still wasn’t sure how they would react to seeing me working or how I would react to seeing them do their full school routine. But I was pleasantly surprised.
This situation has created an opportunity for everyone in my family to actually see each other in action. I’ve been so proud to watch them hold themselves accountable. They get up on time; go to their make-shift workspaces around the house and get to work. It’s been great to watch kids, ages eleven, twelve and fourteen—and learn from them.
What am I doing to keep my kids on track, and what are they teaching me in return? Here are a few things that have worked for us recently:
- Respect that you’re living in the same space. This is something the kids have been way more practical than I thought they would be. We play off of each other and are sensible about individual schedules. A lot of co-existing comes down to common sense.
- I am trying to find humor whenever I can. I am the most embarrassing mom ever, yet I try to inject humor somehow daily. You really have to.
- Kids are little machines. Some may be a little slower than others or may have their own way of doing things, but they are dedicated. I’ve been helping my kids break for a snack and water. Without someone telling them it’s lunch time, sometimes they just power through.
- One word: flexibility. Is it easy? No. But in this unprecedented time, you can’t always focus on consistency. Maybe meals aren’t eaten all together; that’s OK.
- I’m encouraging them to connect with the outside world. How lucky are we to have FaceTime? The kids connect with friends, and sometimes they FaceTime their dad (we are divorced and he is much better at math than me, so I encourage those conversations).
- Can I emphasize hygiene for a second? It’s important. I’ll leave it at that (remind those preteens and teens).
- I’m teaching them about computer software, IT tips and tricks. The kids have a lot to teach me, too. Many of us are probably learning about the inner workings of TikTok at this point.
- They miss their activities. We’ve picked up backyard soccer and UNO card games. But sometimes, embrace the boredom. Be yourself, no distractions. Simplicity rules at times.
- I’ve taught my kids to look up more. I have them go outside, even when they don’t want to, just to enjoy the clouds. During a time that is forcing us to slow down, embrace it. It’s the simplest things that have brought us our times as a family during quarantine.
We’ve come to respect one another more, to be more patient and even understand one another’s moods during these stressful times and situations. That has brought a lot of clarity, and for that I am grateful. I’m also impressed that my kids have embraced the WFH method and engaged more in different ways (more than I would have been able to at their age). It’s a strange time, but I feel hopeful. I am honest with my kids in ways I might not have been during a summer recess, for example. I have a whole new insight into how they react to stress, deadlines, and the absolute pressure of online testing I’ve observed during distance-learning homework. It’s intimidating, yet it is also very eye opening to me as their mom.
During this time we all don’t need to start 8 million new crafts with our kids or write a novel or figure out a lot. Maybe can just understand one another a bit more. Make work what you have to and this time will be interesting to reflect on when things are better.
Editor’s Note: Pascale is founder and CEO of Pascale Communications; follow her @pascalecom.