Quarantine diary – Home Office challenges of a fulltime mom/dad
As the COVID-19 put big economies such as Italy, Spain, USA and Germany to its knees we have been asked to contribute to flatten the infections curve by staying at home. For many of us, IT workers, working from home is somewhat ok. You may be doing this for a long time already. For another portion of us, working from home is an occasional event that allows you to rest a bit from commuting, waking up early or just a break from office environment in general. If you are doing that for a long time you probably have a good chair, a good set of monitors a high speed internet connection and most importantly a dedicated space to separate you from what I call the “House vortex”. From cambridge dictionary [House] vortex is defined as follow:
– a mass of
airwife/husbands or waterkids that spinsscreams around very fastloud and pulls objectspeople into its emptycentre
– a dangerous or
badfunny situation in which you become more and more involved and from which you cannot escape
To the remaining people, working from home is a complete stranger. You don’t have the supporting environment that would help you to be as productive as all those studies claim you are supposed to. There is a learning curve to balance work, productivity and couch. Most of those adventurers and their people ( kids, wife, dogs, relatives) are not “trained” to distinguish home, family time from work, concentration, study time. Aside the infrastructure which is by the way, the very least you should have, there is also a behavioral aspect that is often taken for granted by most people. I remember in the beginning of my homeofficing days, many years ago, my wife would enter my office and ask “What are you dooooooing?”. She was not really interested in WHAT I was doing, but she wanted to talk. Tell me something about her newly discovered hobby, family gossip, or simply have sex. No problem at first right? I’m there, she is there.. why not? Yea.. except that those interruptions are not something you would have had if you were in the office. You have other types of interruptions ( will come to that latter) that are in its majority related to the work you are doing or the work you will do. You would not be interrupted to get something at the garage or help the kids or the dog. Those things have the power to break the concentration mood or state you were in. At work, if you are really concentrated you can simply raise your finger – you know what I mean right? The finger? – and that person would understand that you are busy and come latter (or never). With your wife and kids, you can raise your entire hand, body and do faces that they wont back up from interrupting.. in their pyramid of priorities your work is at the bottom.
One also needs discipline to not be caught spending much more time watching that Netflix series episode during your lunch break than you should have. It takes even more discipline to not be caught working more than you should. Slacking and overtiming requires a balance in the level of commitment to yourself and to your work that you may have not experienced yet. Everyone needs a break and watch that Netflix show or read that book. Those things are really important to maintain sanity and I highly recommend it. On the other side of the river working past your 8 (paid) hours may give you some sense of productivity and arguably a professional advantage but at the cost of your health and family time. Working from home is a tricky business! Not as easy as everyone thinks!
In quarantine times, now, it is like vacations but not quite like it. Because, everyone has to do their regular things but AT HOME! Kids still have to study, you and your partner still have to work but you are all in the same space now. Music classes, sports, entertainment, social and intellectual stuff must go on. How?!
Well, my wife,kids and I have spent the first week of quarantine just slacking. Don’t get me wrong, I was working from home just as the same. But we end up doing nothing productive with the kids and with our free time. It was a paralyzing state that prevented us from thinking what to do. In parts, because we (as everybody else) didn’t think the thing with COVID-19 would get that serious. It was only after my wife realized that she spent 4 hours straight on social media that a yellow warning sign virtually appeared. Kids were doing no better with their phones and tablets and tv shows. We needed to do something about it.
That is why I decided to write a diary of our quarantine experience just now even being at it for a entire week already. This is the first week we are actually doing something useful.
A schedule/ cronogram.
First thing we did (last sunday) was to plan ahead our week. A simple schedule of the daily routines that needed to be done. Nothing fancy or complicated. Just a couple of lines with the activities and time related to it so we are not lost or distracted. Don’t minimize the power of simplicity! In the schedule we tried to add their regular morning stuff and in the afternoon put what (we think) they would do in school. It is mostly about cleaning and organization, home schooling, reading, physical activities, spiritual reading and family interaction.
- 09:00 – Wake up
- 09:20 – Cleaning
- Nicole – Make her bed, remove the bathrooms trash
- Lucas – Make his bed, organize the living room and collect the dogs pooh.
- Thiago – Make his bed, Wash and clean the yards, do one of the dishes
- 12:00 – Lunch
- 13:30 – Homeschooling – Pause each 40 minutes
- 15:30 – Reading
- Each of my kids have their school reading assignments and our “family” assignments.
- 16:00 – Snacks
- 16:30 – Scriptures reading
- 17:00 – Physical Activities
- 19:00 – Dinner
- 20:00 – Family play time
- 21:00 – Shower
- 22:30 – Bedtime
You see, there is no secret. It is not a complete deviation of what they or you would do, but without tracking, listing or planning it you can completely loose it and waste your time with useless stuff. I have no intention to teach on what your schedule should be. Each family should fine tune their routines to their own needs.
I recognize it is no easy to be at home, remain productive and establish a routine when everything you want when you are at home is RELAX. We were trained our entire life for that.. work has always been outside. Now we have to merge it. It is a challenge. But not a impossible one. If you plan and execute the plan it can be fun. Don’t be too strict about it either. My daughter, the little one, is super strict with schedules. She gets anxious and pissed when we fail to accomplish some of the determined tasks. That should not be the spirit. Work hard to fulfill what you’ve planned and if you fail, tomorrow is another day to try again.
As I want to record the adventures of being home with the kids during this period of uncertainty I will write a series of daily posts about our days and what we are doing. Hope you like it.