Auntie Says, Auntie Says...

Auntie Says…Working From Home During a Medical Crisis

I’m one of eight kids. Raised in a small three-bedroom house with one bathroom there were times when a line up would form or yelling would break out.

The worst was when you finally got into the bathroom and someone would start pounding on the door telling you to hurry up.

It became the norm to go through the entire house and ask everyone if they had to use the bathroom before you were going to have a bath.

Oh, those were the days. Ugh.

I wouldn’t want to live that way again. Perhaps because of the way I grew up, I deeply cherish my space and alone time.

With the Covid-19 wreaking havoc all over the world though I’ve had a few conversations with those who are now working from home at the same time the kids are out of school and daycare. Oh, dear. That can make any space shrink quickly.

So how can you get anything done with the kids home? It depends on the age of the kids and if there’s any other adult support in the house.

If you have Kindergarteners or younger–that will be the toughest. They’re high energy, don’t understand the need for downtime or quiet, and can often revert to clingy behavior especially when mom and dad are around 24/7. Though they may not understand the societal dictions, they sense stress and change so they will stick close–just in case.

While the prospect of working from home may seem exciting and exhilarating to start with, it will be more difficult than first anticipated. At first, the idea of staying home and not having to go to the office or commute is great. You don’t need to get dressed if you don’t want to, you can eat while you work, and there’s no one looking over your shoulder.

The novelty wears off quickly though and it will take a lot of patience to succeed.

Here’s a couple of possible solutions to get some alone time to get that work done.

Find a room, space, closet, or stairwell. Do you have a laundry room? Walk-in closet? Maybe the garage? The coveted space just needs to be quiet and big enough for you, a computer, a phone, and a chair. Nothing fancy. My fingers are crossed for you at this difficult time.

Work in the car. When my son was young and had various activities I worked in the car all the time. It became an extension of my office. I made sure to not drink too much coffee though…

Set up a tent on the deck or in the backyard. If you have a tent, tent trailer, or recreation vehicle then you have a separate office. You may have to set up a small heater and use some extension cords to keep everything running but it could be a lifesaver in getting some elbow room to meet those deadlines.

Work in shifts. This would be a tough one to pull off. If the children are young then you can work out some sort of tag-team shifts. Maybe switch over duties every couple of hours or maybe one day on then the next day off. When everyone is under the same roof it’s tough. Voices carry and it’s difficult to not engage, especially if your child is calling for you. Ugh…this would be tough.

Put on your headphones and lock the bedroom door–this could be a solution or a nightmare–you decide.

Talk to your kids. Especially if the kids are a bit older and can understand your need for quiet. Maybe you can strike a deal to do something special together at the end of the day. The older they are the easier it should be to garner some cooperation. This may take the form of bribes, blackmail, and/or ultimatums–all fair during a pandemic I’m sure.

Oh and a word for those of you who don’t have kids but are sliding down into a pit of social media, Netflix, and chocolate, you won’t get any work done that way. Carve out some sort of routine. Even if it’s for two to three hours at a time. Don’t let the work pile up or be neglected because all that will do is cause more stress and possible repercussions from your boss. Take a deep breath and dive in.

Stay strong. Stay healthy.


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4 thoughts on “Auntie Says…Working From Home During a Medical Crisis”

  1. Let the kids use the tent trailer or hang out in your vehicle or RV–or even in the garage or shed. Let them “decorate” it their own way (within reasonable limits). They’ll probably be delighted to have their own space without mom and dad keeping guard all the time (and then parents can have peace indoors, LOL)–this works especially well for about ages 10 and up, but even kids as young as 6 or so think it’s cool to have independent time 🙂 Of course, to do this requires keeping an eye on the kids a bit (cell phone, Skype, taking out snacks, whatever) … and requires that your vehicle or whatever is in a safe place close to the house (and that they don’t make so much noise that the neighbours complain…). Little people love to make “tents” or “forts” out of blankets, pillows, tables and chairs and even be allowed to spend the night in there sometimes. How do I know this? Well, I did have 5 kidlings in 8 years, plus have nephews and nieces (and neighborhood kids) dropping in regularly. These ideas worked well during holidays … and also when I homeschooled the gang for a few years when we lived in a remote community… Of course, “Spring Break” is nearly over, so parents can legitimately make the kids do “learning activities” for a few hours a day … fun learning, rather than just “schooling,” ideally! And parents can take advantage of that relatively quiet time 🙂 (Lots of ideas for learning activities at my site: https://penandpapermama.com/home-education-tips/ )

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    1. Norma! I love your creativity. I guess what it comes down to is working together as a unit in the house. Everyone needs to recognize the need to get things done but sometimes easier said than done. Thanks for the link. Now that the kids will be returning to school there will be a great need for it.

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  2. When my kids were @ 3 & 5, I explained they mustn’t bother mommy unless there was blood. 😁 They were amazingly good about respecting this. Of course, they were nearby & I learned to work with a certain amount of noise. At one time, I did, indeed, have a closet for an office. The small closet had shelves for my paper, reference books & supplies. Typewriter on the bottom shelf. When I finished my work, I merely closed the door & everything was neat. Now I have a huge office & think I need more space. Sigh.😜

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    1. Oh Aggie I love this! It made me laugh and also appreciate that it’s not only when there’s a pandemic that the issue of getting work done with kids around is difficult. Sounds like you had it all worked out. I love the idea of a closet office but I’d step in and close the door. xo

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