Working and Parenting, During a Pandemic
Author: Michelle Mamerto
I have a 12-year old middle-schooler, a full-blown “Tween.” She comes with all the attitude, hormones, drama, insecurities, self-consciousness, mischief, magic and all kinds of awesome rolled into one package. We’ve been stuck at home with each other since March. It hasn’t always been easy with two stubborn and anxious people butting heads at times, but we are making it work. I’ve noticed that some of the things that keep us from killing each other at home, are also things we practice at work.
1) Everyone gets “Me Time.”
At home, I spend my mornings taking walks around the neighborhood, listening to music, trying to break a sweat while practicing mindfulness. My daughter’s “me time” often includes TikTok, YouTube, and at any given moment, she will leave her dark Batcave of a bedroom to play a musical instrument. At work, we take breaks to regroup, stretch out, be mindful, and stay focused. Heck, some of us go on YouTube and TikTok too.
2) We respect boundaries.
At home, we understand that we are in each other’s faces so often that it can be really easy to step on each other’s toes. We’ve had some time to practice, as I have been working from home for over a decade. My tween is respectful of my time, and the quiet that needs to happen while I work; and I make sure to check her online class schedule, so I don’t interrupt her classes if I need her attention. We’re really great at knowing whenever we are pushing each other’s emotional buttons, and are working hard at “reading the room.” At work, we are mindful of each other’s time and emotional boundaries. We try to be sensitive if someone seems overwhelmed, or is not having the best day. If one of us is out of the office, we take care of each other’s clients so as not to disturb anyone during time off.
3) We make time to have fun together.
I am living proof that, for the kids, you are never too old to attempt to learn Dungeons and Dragons(I’m a 125-year old expert-level, magician Elf) or K-Pop choreography(BTS is my jam!) While we don’t play D&D at the office, we do take time to check in with each other, send photos of the delicious meals we’ve cooked or the fun things we are doing, and some of us are lucky enough to come home with the farmer’s market quality produce and jams that Liz brings from her garden. One time, I even FaceTimed Jojo to do a sing along with me, and he obliged! Looking forward to being able to do fun things with The Job Shop in person!
4) We work hard to communicate and we accept that we are only human.
I am definitely not the perfect parent or employee, and my kid is not the perfect child. At both work and home, we know that because we are human, sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we blow up out of anger. Sometimes we hit “Send” before spellchecking. Sometimes we leave the house without a wallet, because it has been so long since we have actually left the house. The key for us is taking accountability for our actions and knowing that how we respond to our mistakes and how we communicate with each other when dealing with our errors, makes all the difference.
5) We give each other space.
This is different from “me time.” Adolescents are tough. Mine is at that stage where she wants independence, but she is also afraid of growing up. Most of the time, she just wants to hang out in her room to play on her phone and chat with friends. I give her space to be independent, but I am around if she needs me. At work, we give each other space to do what we need to do in a timely manner, but just like at home- the offer is out there if anyone needs help; I am always just a call away if anyone needs me.
6) We have rituals.
Every night before bed, my daughter and I make hot cocoa and hang out. Sometimes we’ll watch “our show,” and if I’m lucky, she will play and sing for me. At work, we do our Monday morning emails where we tell each other what we are grateful for (Monday Morning Gratitude,) and talk about goals for the week. We also do a weekly meeting on Zoom. Rituals keep us grounded, and during this time, having regularity in our schedules is a real comfort to many.
Whether we are at home with the kids or working at the office during the pandemic, we all have needs for respect, communication, fun, and normalcy to our schedules. I’m glad to have all these things at home, and at The Job Shop.