Our new reality means adjusting expectations, staying connected

For many of us, we just took on a second job as our kids’ activities director which happens to overlap with our full-time jobs. My kids (6 and 4) – understandably – want us to spend more time with them and don’t get why we have to work all day.

“It’s so boring!” and “You work ALL the time!” are two teary-eyed statements from our 6yo. She’s old enough to do a lot of things by herself but not old enough to fully grasp what’s going on, what it all means, and how this is going to work. None of us do for that matter.

Our 4yo’s reaction has been a bit different in that he seems okay so long as there are enough activities and food through the day. But he‘s also struggling being at home all day and shares when he’s bored. Thankfully my kids have each other and get along for the most part.

As a parent, I feel guilty trying to figure out the activities I can put in front of my kids so I can work and they aren’t just watching TV or a tablet (though still in the mix). Activity books, worksheets, toys, games, exercise, time outside. Ideas shared online help.

As an employee, I feel guilty because I’m trying to support my team and the work we’re doing to respond to everyone taking a step back. My kids interrupting work or meetings to ask for a snack or to play with them puts me in an unwinnable position and piles on the stress.

As a husband, I want to support my wife who also has a full-time job and is slammed right now supporting teams across her work. We’re both struggling to support each other as we work to integrate kids and work.

When work and kids are separate, we show up as our best selves. Now that the two have collided, it’s everything to hold it together. Short tempers and tears by the end of the day, made worse because I want to be 100% for my family and 100% for my job. The stress of being 50/50 at both is straining my mental health.

I’ve made the selfish (or self-preservation) decision to take time to workout everyday. Make lunch for the kids and head into our home gym. Thank god we have it.

Yesterday I finally made it at 3:15p. My mental health was in the danger zone and I couldn’t think straight. After 30 mins, I was recovering and by the end of 60 mins I was able to come back to finish work and make dinner with the kids. But holy shit that scared me.

This is my experience so I can’t say it’s harder or easier than anyone else’s. It’s just hard. That’s it.

As I start a new day, I’m trying to be mindful of my experiences and remember to be kind and patient with myself. And to check-in with others to make sure we’re all doing okay. When we need help, we may not be in the right state to ask for it so check-ins are important.

None of us know how this is going to turn out or how long it will last. But this is the new normal and everyone – people with & without kids, extroverts & introverts, young & old – need to shift in our expectations around work and home.

  • The pace of work will slow down so adjust expectations or you’ll burn out your people.
  • The quality of home life will decrease so forgive yourself, your kids, your spouse when things are messy or you’ll have no place safe to rest and recover.

Let’s have the courage to acknowledge and talk about this new reality.

Talk through our struggles and fears.

Talk through how we’ll overcome these challenges.

Money or more work won’t solve this. People will.

Be there for each other. Stay connected.

2 comments on “Our new reality means adjusting expectations, staying connectedAdd yours →

  1. Thanks for sharing Matt. I have enjoyed the facepainting pics of you and family and I can only imagine what it’s like to be a parent of young children right now. It’s a catch 22. Grateful to have a job in which you have the option of working from home and still getting a pay cheque to spending quality time with children who don’t know why this is happening, only that it is. It’s super important to check in mentally with yourself and others and a reminder for the rest of us to reach out and offer support however we can.

    1. Thanks for reaching out, Vanessa, and your kind words. You nailed it, now is the time to be here for one another. And to value the time with my kids, knowing that we’re all going through something incredibly hard. Hope you and your family are safe and healthy!

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