Families are getting a crash course in how to work from home together with their children and before mass insanity ensues, I thought I’d drop some tips. My family has mastered this shit.
I’ve run my business online with location independence since 2009. My husband also works from home, running a non-profit, going to grad school and holding the role of DDP (default daytime parent.) We have an 18 month old toddler and 12 year old and some hot tips for how to juggle. Here is all you need to know. You’re welcome.
Have a solid morning ritual: We like to start our day by competing over who’s better at pretending they’re sleeping through the baby’s cries starting the day like a rooster’s call. We then allow the children’s demands to dictate the pace and flow of the morning, which removes the risk of early morning decision fatigue.
Schedules are for suckers: They’ll tell you a schedule will keep you sane. But there’s no keeping you sane, so why shoot for unreachable goals? Instead, embrace chaos and flexibility. Show up to each day, volley the child care like a hot potato, take a conference call with the baby in a carrier. Bring your kids on Zoom. Let the world get used to children.
Fight for your priorities: Gone are the days when one person’s job gets to be the most important priority. It’s moment to moment now, baby. Insanity takes all. So who gets the office with the door? Whoever is closest to reaching their breaking point. Who has to bump their work to take care of the kids? Not ‘the most important job’, it’s the adult who’s the most emotionally resourced that day.
Personal space is a luxury: If there’s a place that you can close a door and no one else is there, you’re winning. That’s your office. If it’s a closet, you’re lucky to have a big closet. Get noise cancelling headphones and a sheet to hang up to hide the laundry pile behind you for video calls.
Know your roles: We keep our egalitarian equilibrium by refusing to step in for one another around housework. Sound ruthless? I will live with trash piling up before slowly taking on more domestic duties because they’ve not been done yet. Refuse to negotiate. That trash is not my job. I don’t care that you never volunteered for it, I’m not doing it. This keeps things sexy. Speaking of sexy… (Husband’s note: wow, really?)
Showers are for losers: Short on time? Don’t shower. For like three days. All those minutes of personal hygiene is just procrastination. You’ve got other shit to do. No one at work can smell you. Bonus: When you finally bathe, it’ll feel so good and so nourishing, five minutes will be as rejuvenating as a spa day. (Husband’s note: I can smell you.)
Dress to feel your best: No, I don’t mean in your business casual so that you feel ‘office ready’, I mean that pajamas feel best. You know how many videos I’ve filmed without blowing out the back of my hair or putting pants on? All of them.
Batch your focus: When you’re on email, just focus on email. When it’s time for housework, do housework. Have work hours and boundaries that hold steady and don’t let other things seep in. Just kidding. That’s impossible. Reply to emails using the voice function on your phone while doing your dishes in the bath with the kids. Efficiency, people!
Communicate your needs and respect your differences: I’m an action oriented extrovert. He’s a data oriented introvert. I need to be taken for more social walks than the dogs. He needs space to read and research. We’ve found the perfect balance of communication. He passive aggressively withdraws and I incessantly interrupt and yell GIVE ME ATTENTION. Always play to your strengths. (Husband’s note: you’ve always been strong at getting my attention.)
Carve out time for intimacy: Make sure that once the children are sweetly tucked into their beds and you’ve picked up the house (or have played whack-a-mole for 3 hours getting them down while living in utter chaos), take time to deeply connect with your partner. Start by showing them all your favourite COVID memes from the day before passing out in your clothes. They’re already pajamas, so you’re golden.