Let me tell you about the reality of two parents working from home with two small children.
The reality is, no one is homeschooling the 5 year old. And if we were homeschooling, then we would be outside a lot more, because that is where homeschooling rules the roost.
So no, I am not doing any schoolwork with Mr. 5 except for our usual reading at night. Do I wish that I could sit with him throughout the day and do activities, both creative and educational? Sure. But I can’t. So I’m not.
I’m glued to my work computer or my phone for as much of the day as I possibly can be.
There are snippets of the day when I am playing some back yard tennis or colouring-in, and by snippets I mean 2-3 minutes.
Now let’s introduce Miss 2. Miss 2 is usually at daycare everyday (until 3 weeks ago). Now, her greatest activity is opening the fridge and seeing what she can force me to cook or prepare for her so that she can leave it under a couch somewhere because she’s boredom eating, not hungry eating.
Miss 2 has become so bored that she’s toilet trained herself, something we were going to leave up to the daycare to do since they have her 5 out of 7 days. Yesterday Hazel demanded I take her nappy off so that she could wee on the toilet, then she put on underwear for the first time, then quickly decided she needed to escalate to a poo, on the toilet. No fuss, no muss.
It is my belief she has become so accustomed to her dad and I being busy in the study, or on our computers/phones during the last 3 weeks that she has taken it upon herself to toilet train. Mr. 5 was 4 before he could poo on the toilet. Miss 2 is apparently so bored that challenging her brother to a duel of ‘who poo’d in the toilet first’ is the only thing that could satisfy her on this day.
By two years.
I’m now trying to work out whether she is a genius or whether Mr. 5 is…not.
The kind me says neither. The ruthless me, says Miss 2 is going to walk all over her brother by the time tomorrow comes around.
I find no pride in the fact that my children are under stimulated, over tired, and barely amusing themselves throughout the day.
Before the C word came along, my husband and I ran a very tight ship. Breakfast and dinner routines were to the tee. Our life was structured and accounted for. 3 weeks ago I sat at my computer, at my workplace, missing my children. I wished I could give away my job and spend more time with Miss 2 before her baby days were over. I wanted to be free to take Mr. 5 to school each day and pick him up. In my daydreams, I wasn’t sneaking off to the study every 5 minutes and hoping they wouldn’t notice.
The reality of our situation is, we are not schooling them. We are not spending quality time with them. We are not lapping up all this extra time because my husband and I don’t actually have any extra time.
(This is the part where I’m supposed to say, “I’m grateful to at least have my job and my health”. There I said it; and its true. But my reality is still mine and I know so many others are struggling with the idea that they are supposed to get through the pandemic wearing every hat from every role that existed in our “normal” lives).
That is not realistic.
That is not our reality.
Everyday now, I wake up thinking of ways to distract my children that doesn’t involve me. I’ve gone to thinking of ways that I can escape them, instead of how I can spend more time with them.
That is my reality.
That is my heart breaking reality.
I stay up late so I can do tomorrows work today, so that in the mornings I can look my children in the face, kiss them, feed them breakfast, sit with them and talk, uninterrupted by my phone or anxiety that emails are building up.
My husband works into the late hours, because his job has become extremely critical, but he too has to share the load with me tomorrow. Our late night bedtime discussion no longer contains laughter, but instead is a time where we decide whose meetings or deadlines are most critical.
That is the reality.
I will say, for the sake of positivity, that I have seen so many beautiful firsts since working from home full time; my toddler riding a bike and toilet training (herself). Watching my son enjoy working out with his dad in the shed, to get squares (a six pack, lol). There is a flip side, sure; but right now I kind of feel like flipping the bird.
I’m not reading more books.
I’m not taking a breather.
I’m not hitting reset.
I’m doing my best, to survive my new reality.
And I hope that these are the times that my children don’t remember.
Because I feel more invisible to them than I did before.
That’s the reality of two parents working from home, with children.
Am I alone in this new reality? Or are you there too?