Dear fellow parents working from home,
I’m not usually a fan of “open letters,” but since I can’t reach through your screen and shake your shoulders . . . this will have to do.
Talking to my friends who are trying to work from home while taking care of their kids — young ones, who need always need a snack or a snuggle or their boo boos kissed — in the past two weeks, I’ve noticed something that really bothers me.
So many of you feel guilty.
One dear friend told me she felt helpless, like she wasn’t doing enough. Her husband is working overtime, and she’s working half-days. While taking care of her 4-year-old. All day. Alone.
Another told me that things have been HARD. But she feels guilty because it’s always been her dream to see her kids more — so why is she struggling?
Another told me she is loving this time . . . but feels guilty for enjoying it because of the circumstances.
Over and over, I’ve heard that it’s good to see the kids more . . . but wow, this is really overwhelming. And we’re all trying to hold it together and be a safe place for our kids, too.
Can we just pretend for a moment I have made you a cup of cocoa with extra marshmallows, sat you down on my sofa, and told you in a very stern voice . . . YES, THIS IS REALLY HARD. You are a HERO.
There’s a reason we don’t usually work from home with kids. That’s because it’s exhausting. It’s almost always impossible to do both well.
I know, because I’ve been there. I started writing for Kidlist when my oldest was born, four years ago. It was so fun, helped me connect to my community, was insanely flexible, and only took a few hours a week. Honestly, it was my sanity in those early baby days.
But when I started taking on more jobs, more hours, and more responsibility — and trying to get it all done during naptime, or after bedtime, or during a few precious hours of grandparent care when I really should have been taking a nap myself . . . I was a mess.
So I got help.
I got a sitter. Then another. And a mother’s helper so I could cook dinner a few times a week. I enrolled my 4-year-old in afternoon preschool five days a week, not so I could work, but so I could actually take a break during my 2-year-old’s nap. I leaned into my kids’ grandparents and started being honest about what I needed. I paid people I trusted to take great care of my kiddos. I started enjoying my work again. I started enjoying my kids again.
It’s still hard! Work is hard. Parenting is hard. But it’s sustainable, at least for a few years, until the kids are in school.
You know what’s not sustainable?
Doing this without help.
And thank God, we won’t have to forever.
Right now, this thing you’re trying to do? With no school, and no babysitters, and no friends or relatives pitching in to help?
It’s not sustainable. And it won’t be forever. You’re doing the full-time job of parenting; adding a job on top of that is so much.
It’s too much.
So please, my amazing friends. Please lay down the guilt. When it’s hard, it’s not your fault. When you find those beautiful silver linings, cling to them without shame.
One day at a time, we’ll make it through this. Together.
Even if I can’t give you the bear hug I wish I could.