“Send wine” used to be a funny saying between moms when they just needed a little break from everyday momming. In the time of Corona, this has become a necessity. “Send wine” is no longer a request but rather a plea for sanity.
For the longest time there has been a lot of judgement in the mom community: working moms judging stay-at-home moms; stay-at-home moms judging working moms; judging of parents with kids in school; judging of parents homeschooling their kids; judging of parents who send their kids to full time aftercare; judging of parents who have nannies; judging of parents who don’t. Judging, judging, judging all over, with little to no understanding of the situation the other party finds themselves in. Well, friends, let me introduce you to the Coronavirus – the one who has leveled the field for each and every person out there.
Suddenly schools are closed; so is aftercare. Extra murals are cancelled, playgrounds are no-go zones, your nanny has to stay home for her own safety, society demands that you socially distance yourself, and work, productively from home. And just like that, bam! We are all a little more empathetic with the challenges faced by others.
South Africa is currently in a full national lock down for the next 21 days, and while many people have stockpiled toilet paper, your average mom is just thinking about how to get through the next 8 hours, nevermind the next 21 days.
Many working moms suddenly find themselves having to balance being a productive remote working employee, a full-time teacher, a patient mom and an understanding wife – all from the comfort of our bedrooms – while still making sure that fridges are stocked, breakfasts, lunches and dinners are cooked and laundry is done and packed away. Every.Single.Day. This does not take away from the dads who are involved too; I know a few pretty amazing souls who are very involved dads, but who have admitted that they too would like to run away at times.
We have then not even spoken about the financial worries faced by parents and businesses alike. Living in a time of a world pandemic – and very uncertain times – is not for sissies. There is so much to worry about, think about, plan for. But there is also so much to be thankful for, and it should be mentioned, in fact it should be screamed from the mountain tops – YOUR MOST IMPORTANT JOB IS TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY AND HAPPY!
Here are a few tips on remote working, parenting and keeping sane, from a not-so-sane-herself remote working mom.
- Communicate – I cannot stress this enough: talk, a lot, and talk often, with your partner, your kids, your colleagues, your friends and family. Everyone will be better for it. Your partner will know where you are struggling, where you need assistance; your kids will know that you quite like them and what you expect of them; colleagues will know when you are struggling and need a bit of help or a pick me up; and your friends and family will know that you care deeply about them.
- Get up, dress up and show up – Working from home may fool you into thinking that you can work in your PJ’s everyday and shower at midday. Don’t do it! Follow a morning routine like you would on a normal working day: get up, dress up and show up.
- Follow a routine – Having a set and easy-to-follow daily routine for everyone in your home is important. This helps everyone to understand the boundaries between work and play, and when to expect certain things to happen. A note: don’t drive yourself mad trying to keep to this routine: some days it will be easy, other days it will be difficult. And that is ok too!
- Be deliberate about work time and family time – When the end of the work day rolls around, that is it. Knock off like you would when leaving the office. Go outside for a little bit so that there is a clear break between work and family time. Also make peace with the fact that while you are on that conference call with your boss and biggest client, your 6 year old may appear demanding a snack.
- Technology is your friend – Schedule video calls with your friends and family. My bestie and I have been doing regular Skype W(h)ine Parties, even before Corona joined us, from two different continents, and it is so good for the soul. It doesn’t beat being physically present, but it’s better than nothing. Also, WINE!
- Be present – This is probably the most important one for me. We are always asking for another day between Saturday and Sunday, and now we have 21. Just be present and try to really listen when someone is talking to you. Connect! Bake cookies with your kids, read that book. Do normal things, in different ways with your family. Movies under the stars, picnics in your garden, breakfast in bed. Do the things you never get an opportunity to do, and just be present.
- Stay healthy – Do home workouts, You Tube has many channels you can subscribe to for guided workouts, yoga, meditation, etc. Take your daily vitamins and when the ‘Rona’ does come knocking on your door, stare it squarely in the eye and tell it you will beat it.
- Did I mention wine?
The next few weeks will be challenging in different ways for every South African. This is uncharted territory for everyone – business, individuals, moms, dads, children. Everyone. Be kind, just be a decent and kind human being.