To the parents now working from home while homeschooling, short-order cooking and trying to keep it all together — we feel you. To the parent who may be doing it alone, the ones who’ve lost jobs and those scrambling to find a way to feed your family — our hearts are with you.
“Being forced to stay home has actually been a blessing in disguise for my family. We are always on the go, and my husband’s work schedule keeps him out of the house most days and sometimes weekends. For the first time, we are slowing down and getting to spend time together that we usually only get on vacation. With that said, as we are trying our best to keep a positive outlook in our home, these times are also incredibly trying.
We have a huge age gap between the kids: 20 months, 8 years and 18 years. Their needs are significantly different, so there really is no solo downtime until 9 pm. I’m exhausted, I’m eating and drinking way more than usual and trying to find time to self-care is just not happening the way I would like it to be. Work? What is that anymore? I’m not even sure what day of the week it is, and we’re only ending week two!
To create sanity and also some order throughout the day we made a schedule. We are not overly strict about it but use it more as a guide so these days don’t feel long, and I don’t hear the constant asking for devices. We divided it up with walks, yoga, art, quiet time, sports, baking, chores so that the school work feels shorter and manageable. My husband and I take turns doing nature walks with Isadora, our toddler, so we can get some emails/calls done. It is a short window but for now work has slowed all the way down to almost non-existent so it seems manageable for now. What I am missing due to life with a toddler is my free-time, my me-time! I love a hot bath at the end of my day to just decompress. Things that are saving us are Ryan Heffington sweat fest, Wendy Mac art classes, Zoom house parties (with wine) and play dates, and our new virtual friendships.
Nicole Gonzalez | founder of Lillies & Leon
My family and I live in NYC and we’ve been home for 28 days (as of April 9). I’m sure I am not alone when I say I could have never in my wildest dreams imagined this is where 2020 would take us. But here we are. The last two weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. I am scared, anxious, and trying to keep it together while taking care of two children who I need to make sure feel safe and loved.
Work right now seems almost impossible but I am so looking forward to starting a new project next week and having a new creative focus. I am going to attempt a set work time that I can look forward to each day. I have cooped up kids at home and we are still trying to get adjusted – which for us means no set schedule and letting our day flow as it may. Things that have been helping us find joy: impromptu dance parties, art projects, taking photos learning TikTok routines, calling my mom, virtual happy hour with friends, laughter! There are days my chest hurts from my anxiety or I start crying while doing the dishes. I am allowing myself the space to feel whatever it is I need to feel while still finding light in our day.
Natalie Alcala | founder of Fashion Mamas
Around here, we’re running less of a schedule and more of an outline. Everything is less of a balance and more of a blend. After a morning Spotify dance party (highly recommend looking up DJ D-Nice’s Homeschool playlist), my brief workout session, and breakfast for all, my 5-year-old has virtual class, which is my chance to get through some email. I’m working about two hours a day right now since keeping two kids entertained and stimulated feels like a full-time job.
We have about two blocks of ‘creative’ time that last an hour, when we’re all creative art for our ‘Quarantine Art Wall‘. My husband has been a great equal partner through all of this; we take turns working, watching the little ones and doing house chores. By 4 pm we declare that we’re officially done for the day; I have my cannabis and a glass of natural orange wine, the kids are running around the house wild, and it’s a free-for-all until dinnertime and bathtime/bedtime. Rinse and repeat!”
Sylvie Esmundo | wellness blogger
It’s been almost 3 weeks (we started mid March) since we started distance learning and sheltering in place with our almost 7-year-old, 1st grade son and our 2 1/2 year old. We have made some major strides, but we too have our share of great and tough moments every day (and every hour!). But no matter what, we have a few tried and true practices that help us find the light, refill our cups, and give love during this uncertain time:
1. Set a clear schedule (with some fun incentives for staying focused and finishing on time): One of the hardest transitions with distance learning was shifting our son’s school versus home mindset. Getting him up at the same hour, eating breakfast, dressed and kicking off school as close to his regular school schedule is our daily goal. We power through to lunch and then do a fun Kidz Bop lunch dance break, then wrap up the afternoon and celebrate with a Mo Willems doodle class, a family beach walk and scooter ride, and some coveted Zoom or Messenger kids time with T’s BFFs.
2. Lots of music and dancing with positive, mood-boosting Spotify playlists: These fill our home during breakfast hour to get us in the best state of mind, ready to tackle the day. Pop Soul Classics & Have a Great Day are some good ones anyone can listen to!
3. Mini meditations: Before we start our learning and work at the start of every day, I do my own Mini meditation before I rouse the kids, focusing on my breath, repeating mantras and affirmations that give me hope, keep me focused, and make me feel safe and grounded. And I do a similar mini-meditation with T, teaching him the magic and power of Breathwork and a positive state of mind.
4. It’s OK to break the routine: I do a gut check with the kids throughout the day to see how they’re feeling. These cooped up littles are going through a lot just like us adults, and sometimes they need some space away from it all. And that is TOTALLY OK. Some days we sail through the day. Some days we throw the schedule out the window and go outside to just scooter over to the beach away from math tests and zoom classes. We love extra hard on those days, and know that there are better days ahead.
Dr. Deepika Chopra | Optimism Doctor + Founder of Things Are Looking Up
To be honest, I am certainly not anywhere near ‘balancing’ work from home, keeping the home clean, cooking, laundry etc., and taking care of my 2.5 year old but, I’m definitely managing. What has really helped me has been triaging and prioritizing and letting go of the word ‘balance’ and any form of self-judgement or absolutes of what this should all look like. Work has certainly taken a bit of a back seat which has been really tough because I feel so called and so eager to serve and to offer my expertise and support more so than ever right now and also, of course, the financial burden, but, all of the chores that need to get done and taking care of Jag, my son has to come first. My husband is also, of course, working from home and so we are having to be more mindful of each other’s schedules and because I work for myself, it’s frustrating, but the reality is I have more flexibility so often I need to compromise more often.
We are fortunately learning through all of this that we are actually a pretty good team and I am thankful to have learned this, too. I am forced to take on much fewer projects, clients and partnerships and am focusing on one or two that I feel compelled to be a part of. Some days, like today, I feel like all I’ve done is load and unload the dishwasher multiple times, fold laundry, read books with my son while he poops on the toilet, prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, draw Daniel The Tiger, play “crash” (not even sure what this game is that my son made up outside) and read about coronavirus. Work begins around 9 pm. Then I stop and think, ‘Wow, that’s actually a lot. I have done A LOT today and I am proud of myself.’
I contemplated halting shipping for my Things Are Looking Up decks because I am a one-woman mama team and the thought of continuously exposing myself to that post office during all of this and just because of the sheer lack of time I knew I would have — but the feedback from so many people reaching out letting me know how the optimism deck of cards is helping to their families get through these difficult days and knowing that working on mindset is so important — more so than ever right now it actually has given me so much happiness and a sense of purpose right now that keeps me optimistic and hopeful so I am continuing at least for now!
With this new type of normal I am finding myself having to shift and make choices and sacrifices, most of the days I have to set aside my work which is such a big part of who I am and how I identify myself and not every day do I find the silver lining or the hope but G*d knows I am trying and some days that’s good enough and some days it just isn’t. I am a big believer of rituals and although many of my pre-quarantine rituals I cannot carry out, I am clinging on to the ones me and my family still can, like our daily dance parties and new rituals that this time has given a rise to… like our pre-meal ritual when Jag helps to set the table, we light a candle and the three of us eat three meals together at the same time every day. We had never really done that before! I am managing as best I can and I keep holding on to the idea that this time is temporary, I know we will get through it and it is what it is… and that’s just okay.
Sophie Jaffe | founder of Philosophie
Every day is different. As a mama of three and running two businesses out of our home it can be easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed especially during these uncertain times. We’re keeping it simple in our home. We’ve shifted our perspective as a household and are choosing to focus on the moments together we’re creating and the more time we’re able to spend together creating obstacle courses in our backyard, watching movies, making new superfood recipes together, and blasting good music for dance parties in our living room. Instead of putting pressure on myself to feel accomplished during this time, I’m focusing on staying present and keeping my children safe, happy and loved because it’s all that matters — everything else is extra credit.
Every night I write a list of what needs to get done the next day and have an ongoing list that I update every night of what needs to get done that week. We start every day with a short walk as a family for some movement before my boys hop on their virtual classes. My youngest takes about a 3 hour nap during the afternoon and I’ll use this time for the bulk of my work, eat lunch and make calls or respond to emails. My boys also know this is quiet time and will occupy themselves with quiet activities or play outside. When the kids head to bed, I will finish up some more work unless I’m too tired from being present with them all day. I also take a walk in the late morning to have phone calls or catch up on emails.
I recognize that this period is not permanent and finding gratitude in this time with my family. Finding joy in the small moments amongst all the challenging ones and taking it day by day.
Working from home during this time is a tough routine to get into and truthfully, we still haven’t nailed it yet. My husband and I were already working from home, but we had a nanny help watch our son Jacob three full days a week. Now that we are all isolating, my husband and I are balancing hours to work and watch our son throughout the day. I typically work two hours a day while our son naps and then while my husband can take a bit of time off to be with our son.
We live in a condo and fortunately have this large balcony that we never took advantage of, so we made it a project to clean it and reconstruct it as a safe, outdoor play area for Jacob. We’re putting artificial grass, a sand table, and a mini garden for him to enjoy as a growing toddler. It’s coming along!