Coronavirus means working from home, exercising from home, eating (every meal) at home, and doing all things at home. How's #socialdistancing working for you?
At Brief Transitions, we believe life can be messy. We coined the phrase "Life is Meshy" as it goes right along with our postpartum mesh underwear made for new moms or those who want to continue to enjoy the first few months of motherhood in (extreme) comfort. We were even listed on What to Expect as The Best Postpartum Mesh Underwear to Keep You Comfortable After Delivery — a BIG highlight for us!
During this time of shifting all work to remote work, we spoke with our community of working moms about how they're handling the transition.
What are you doing to stay productive and get your job done while we're all in quarantine during the corona outbreak? How are you creating boundaries with your kids (and maybe partners, too)? How are you sharing household responsibilities or taking shifts with their partner to make things work? Or, are you losing it? We asked for full transparency, and we got it!
Read on below to get tips, inspiration, and a slice of our reality as working moms during this very surreal time.
Profession: Pediatric and mom physical therapist
Follow on Instagram: @littlemoverspt
Kid count: Girl - 5 & Boy - 3
I’m trying to do the kids “work” in the morning time after breakfast. I have converted my therapy clients into telehealth and see my patients in the afternoon. My kids help me as models for my clients, for better or worse. My husband typically works from home and needs as much quiet as possible.
When not on a call, he will pop in and hang with the kids so that I can telehealth quietly. Since he has always worked from home, he has a full work week, where my caseload has significantly diminished. I have taken on all of the responsibility with homework, cooking, cleaning, and outdoor time.
Thankfully, we have a yard where the kids can play and climb! The main obstacle I have run into is the fact that the kids don’t see me as a teacher, so they are less willing to do work and are less patient with themselves and me.
Profession: Owner, Tame the Sweet Health and Lifestyle Coaching Company; Clinical operations consultant for a small, science-based company in Cambridge, MA
Follow on Instagram: @gina.m.newton
Kid count: Girl - 5.5 & Girl - 4
Right now, I'm navigating my consulting job during the day, and teaching my girls while navigating their virtual activities, too. I explain to my kids that I can't play with them when I have to get work done; I encourage them to get their school work done to enjoy free play time like imaginary play, TV, and crafts.
My husband supports when he can but is frequently on conference calls right now. He can watch them if we coordinate our meetings so that I can be in my office alone. I'm on a roller coaster. Many of the days, I've felt like I have it under control and empowered — earlier today, I got real negative around the uncertainty.
I shut the computers and schoolwork down, we had a dance party, and that made us all feel better! It's surely a day by day, hour by hour way of managing it. I set an intention each day for the day to look a certain way but when something arises like a bomb in the middle of it, I troubleshoot as needed. I've been staying up much later than I want and should, but we've kept the momentum in every area thus far (I hope!).
Profession: Public Relations
Follow on Instagram: @bickertonprgirl
Kid count: 3 total — ages 9, 11, and 12
It’s been hard to stay motivated and productive. Luckily, I'm busy with work. I'm trying to keep my mind clear (thank god for workouts) and my head up, despite the sad news of the virus.
I'm creating boundaries. I help my kids from 8-9:30 am (they start at 8 am), and then I go into the home office (or bedroom cause my husband and I are sharing space, and that alone has its challenges) as if I'm leaving for NYC to head to meetings/work. I come out for lunch and eat with the kids if I can, then I go back to work until 5 or 6 pm. The kids understand I have to work and keep the business going. Thankfully, they also understand what is happening in the world and know the show must go on. I can't say we do not have our moments, cause like any family, we are. My daughter is having a meltdown here and there because learning from home is not the norm, and she isn't feeling as secure with her schoolwork as she does when she is in the classroom.
I'm forcing myself to get a workout once a day, whether it's on the Peloton bike or using the Peloton app in my bedroom to do a weight lifting exercise or yoga. My kids will join in on the yoga and weights, which has been a bonding experience.
Chores. I can't say I'm great at delegating, but the kids and my husband are doing the things I ask them to do, such as making the bed, Clorox down xxx, change the trash. I'm handling the bigger chores around the house (cause I'm not so patient with waiting for chores to get done!).
Profession: Associate Director of Operations in a higher education institution; Owner of Ponderlily
Follow on Instagram: @weareponderlily
Kid count: 2 total — 5 year old twin girls
I'm a Brazilian-born, Arabian Gulf-raised, Brit-wed, higher-ed executive, business owner, and twin mum with a plan: to ignite joy, purpose, and empowerment in women striving for a life of fullness, not busyness.
I chose to pivot my rhythms and routines to stay productive, positive, and calm. I co-created a new, family schedule with my husband so we can alternate working hours (because the couple that Zooms together for work in nearby spaces...gets on each others' nerves, friends), share responsibility homeschooling the twins now that they're schools are closed, and have time for ourselves alone. We wouldn't have necessarily done this before, but seriously...these are different times and we have to do what we can do create some sense of normalcy in these weird, weird, times.
I'm doing all the cooking because that's something I always had to rush through so I'm enjoying that time now. The children do chores like setting the table, making their bed, etc. My husband and I are sharing homeschooling responsibilities and when we need a grocery run, he's the one getting that sorted for us.
I explain to the children why we're working from home and how happy we are we get to have lunch all together. They also know that when the office door is closed that means mummy or daddy are working but if it's important they can come in. I also established boundaries with my colleagues, too by communicating that hey, sometimes my kids may come in the room when we're talking because hey, I have kids and this is the reality they get to see. It's happened a few times and they're cool about it.
Profession: Self-employed founder
Follow on Instagram: @catherinehover
Kid count: 3 total — 5, 2, and 7 months
Every day we are on the verge of losing it, but we keep it together for our kids. We've created a schedule, and we are trying our best to stick to it, bringing in the oldest (5 years old) to help out. This experience has forced us into a schedule we've always tried to enforce. My partner is unemployed now, so he is stepping up more so on the home front, but with that comes a lot of its own gender guilt for not doing the home life tasks. It's hard, but we are staying positive!
Amber Budd Peterson
Profession: Owner of Amber Budd Atelier and myEsthi app/website.
Follow on Instagram: @amberbudd
Kid count: Boy - 4 months
So far, I'm getting up early in the morning to feed him; then, when he goes back to sleep, I'm banging out as much work as possible in that quiet, focused time. I've started working through his naps, and anytime I can get him to play in his play ring, or with his musical toys!
My son EJ is going through a "mama" phase, so my husband hasn't been able to help with him, especially lately, but he can help with housework, so he keeps me sane by making sure counters get wiped down, dishes keep flowing, and bottles are ready.
I've had a few moments of complete meltdown — who hasn't?! My business got shut down a week ago, and we have no real indicators of when we can go back! God bless the USPS because they can pick up packages from my front porch — we've been utilizing the app (myEsthi) to have people do consultations and shipping their products from home. (I frantically moved all the products from my office to my house and set up a makeshift warehouse).
Having a newborn has its own set of challenges. Boundaries aren't something they understand, and he truly NEEDS me right now, so it's just about being flexible in my day. I may PLAN to go live for a skincare boot camp at 10 am, but it might end up being 10:15 because he needs to eat, or my husband is on a conference call. We are making it work!
Profession: Founder of SmartSitting
Follow on Instagram: @narrativesuzie
Kid count: Boy - 3 & Boy - 9 months
I have a schedule with my husband, where we share responsibilities. Every morning we take a walk before the day gets started. We're missing our babysitter but are enjoying the time with the kids.
We created a schedule for academic time, creative time, and free play time — and are adjusting more every day. It's a challenge! I'm happy to discuss the details with you all! It's a fun and challenging time, and I definitely miss seeing people! I would say having set expectations is really helpful, also being flexible. Making sure dinner prep doesn't take more than 15 minutes is key!
Profession: Founder & CCO of Beauty+Content photography studio specializing in beauty and wellness.
Follow on Instagram: @beautystealsinward
Kid count: Girl - 8
I'm losing it! But we've found a few helpful things — 2x daily bike rides, starting the day with outdoors stretching and meditation, adding chores into our daily routine and lots and lots of FaceTime playdates! My partner is super supportive, his working hours are a little more rigid, but he does all the cooking and cleaning after-hours, and I work late!
Profession: Founder, SSR Digital Group
Follow on Instagram: @the_suss
Kid count: 2 total — almost 5, and almost 1
We're fortunate to be able to have childcare nearby. I've spent my days doing work out of my home office, which is also my bedroom. If I position my video camera just right there's a gorgeous window behind me. I take small breaks and eat lunch with the kids. We also do short activities during the day to break up what I call groundhogs day. Every day I write out a schedule with some new ideas to do.
Profession: Founder, Seasoned Moments
Follow on Instagram: @seasonedmoments
Kid count: Girl - 11 & Girl - 8
I'm actually really enjoying this time. Since we can't rush anywhere, there's a lot less stress. I have firm boundaries with the girls. They know that they have to show up for virtual school, complete their homework, and practice the piano before they do anything else. That means they're occupied from 8 am - 2 pm. This way, I have a decent chunk of time to do my work, make calls, have virtual meetings, etc. everyone chips in.
Sometimes the girls make their meals, and sometimes they cook for the whole family. My husband and I have been splitting up cleaning and laundry so that no one bears the entire brunt of it. We let each other have a break or alone time when needed. And we make time for just us — we take a nice walk alone, go to a separate area of the house away from the girls, etc.
Profession: Founder, Do More Stress Less
Follow on Instagram: @do.more.stress.less
Kid count: Boy - 11 and Boy - 9
We've created separate workspaces for each person in the house, including kids. So, we all have a place to be that's not underfoot of anyone else. I've also created a master schedule each week that shows when each parent is in meetings and when kids are in remote school classes. This way, we know not to interrupt each other.
In terms of sharing responsibilities, my husband has taken the lion's share of being available to the kids as his work schedule has fewer meetings than mine. He's also handling "PE." I've been cooking three meals a day. And for cleaning, I've designated a couple of rooms per person, including kids, and we're all responsible for keeping our areas clean.
The other helpful thing is that we do a debrief every night over dinner. We talk about what went well, what didn't, and what to improve or test the next day.
Profession: Mindset Coach
Follow on Instagram: @louiseheite
Kid count: 2 total — 7 and 4
We created a schedule together with the kids with a bunch of different activities — each day, we decide together which of those activities we will focus on for the day — ensuring two blocks of independent learning.
Although we are still very much finding our flow, it does get better every day. We focus on encouraging our kids to become independent learners, guiding them to find the answer. From a household and meal prep perspective, it's an all hands on deck i.e.; cooking class is a daily item on the schedule. 😉
To keep my focus, I optimize my early morning hours and during the kids' work time. I'm looking for the opportunity at every moment.
Profession: Founder, Brilliantly
Follow on Instagram: @brilliantly.co
Kid count: Boy - 11 & Girl - 9
We time block. That way, we know when we're all working, when we're doing something fun together, and when we have solo time for reading, drawing, or writing.
Our kids go to a school where many children don't have internet access at home, so they mostly have worksheets. In an attempt to make that less boring, we've been doing other things. Baking bread, planting a garden, learning how to do laundry and dishes, going on nature walks, and having FaceTime dates with my friends who teach mini-lessons about their area of expertise.
I'm a single mom, but we spend some time with their dad every day. His work schedule is much less flexible, so I generally pick up the slack with the kids. I'm not losing it (yet). 🙂
Profession: Founder, Rawly Bold
Follow on Instagram: @heypamd
Kid count: 2 total — 6 and 3
The first week was a disaster. I got overwhelmed fast and became anxious on day three. I don’t usually suffer from anxiety so I knew the workload and constant attention to the news must have triggered it.
I started guided meditations and at-home workouts or went for a long walk once a day, but kept my distance from others. It all helped and kept me distracted. The weekend after week one, I bought supplies to do craft projects at home and created a schedule. One schedule for me and my husband because he needs a routine and another for the kids.
I mostly split the day. I have more responsibilities in the morning, and he takes over after lunch. My 3-year-old still naps, so luckily for him, he just has to focus more on finishing school work with our 5-year-old. During that time is when I have a few hours to work from home for my 9-5.
Profession: Entrepreneur, author, doctor & mama
Follow on Instagram: @drjjpursell
Kid count: Girl - 9 & Boy - 3
Like all of us, when we realized what was upon us, it required repeated pivots in both our schedule and businesses. I went into hyperdrive, trying to create a plan for my husband and me to tag team the kids and various learning or activities and time for ourselves to keep working.
That lasted one day. Over the next week, when I wasn't with my kids, I felt like I was a computer being downloaded with a flood of new data. Fear, business failure, decrease in raising capital, manufacture house closures came at me from every angle, as did the first wave of virtual forums to discuss how to handle everything going on. So I stopped working for three days and allowed myself to be angry, confused, and sad about everything that is happening around me.
I gave myself time and space to be present with my kids, my garden, my goats, and I realized — I got this. I love being a Visionary in business, and without it, I wouldn't feel fulfilled. I love my kids seeing me work and teaching them that when I have my earplugs in at my computer, it's better to find Daddy.
But I also love to be able to give them a hug or cuddle, even during that virtual meeting if they need it — because timing is everything, and being present is priceless.
Profession: Founder, Jasmine + Marigold
Follow on Instagram: @jasmineandmarigold
Kid count: 2 total — 4 and 21 months
I work for another company, run my own business, and am now home full-time, figuring both these out while also caring for my four year old and my 21-month-old.
I'm a business development manager for an employment law firm full-time. My side hustle is an apparel business. Typically, I'd have worked all day in the office and come home at night to do business things. Now, I feel like I have no break!
My MIL is coming over to help us. She wasn't here last week since we wanted to protect her from getting anything from us. My husband is not helping much (shocker!), and he's also working remotely. He isn't capable of coming up with kids' crafts or things to keep them occupied. It's HARD!
Profession: CEO & Founder of Sage Spoonfuls
Follow on Instagram: @lizahuber
Kid count: 4 total — 13, 11, 9, and 7
I'm finding it difficult to focus on work right now, but I have to keep things moving. I've found that writing down the five critical tasks that need to happen for work that day on a sticky note and putting it on my computer helps keep me focused. I'm also trying to segment my time. When it's time to work, it's time to work, and when it's time to be with the kids, they get my full attention.
Profession: Sales Enablement Principal
Connect on LinkedIn: Stephanie Grimm
Kid count: 2 total — 5 and 3
We have a homeschool schedule for the boys who are both home. We are tag-teaming them hour by hour. Last week I had massive anxiety about working with the kids home. I haven’t been sleeping well. And I cry every day over something silly. I have started using Marco Polo to see my friends.
Profession: Founder of Brief Transitions and The Transitions Collective
Connect on LinkedIn: Mary Clavieres
Kid count: 2 total — 6 and 3.5
My husband and I are trying to split our workdays. Generally, he works in the morning while I help our kids with school and then we switch for the afternoon. We started reviewing our schedules the night before to make sure we don’t have any unexpectedly overlapping calls come up, but if we do we make adjustments.
It’s definitely stressful so we’re taking it day by day. If one of us needs a break we let each other know and carve out some space. It’s a lot to try to keep up with the schoolwork plus get our own work done, so we’re trying to focus on the most important tasks first.
Sometimes it feels challenging to not be hard on myself, but I try to remind myself that I'm doing my best given the unexpected circumstances.
How Are You Staying Productive (or Slowing Down) During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Working during this time can be a challenge all on its own for your patience, mental health, and general well being. Adding a whole new routine and extra humans interfering is a surefire way to kill your productivity. However, there’s also a silver lining. It’s a chance to spend more time with your loved ones, see more of their day-to-day at school or work, and take a minute to slow down and be present today.
How are you dealing with the transition? Tell us in the comments below!
From everyone at Brief Transitions, we’re sending you love and strength during this time of uncertainty. We’re here for you and can’t wait to see how we all come out of this stronger once it’s over.