Ever since I took up my current role,I missed my working from home days of my previous job for a very long time. Acclimatization eventually kicked in and I grew used to going to work. Every. Single. Day.
If the kids were ill the odd days,I used to take emergency family leaves at work.( We have 5 per year). I fell in love with the routine. Going to work clearly demarcated home and work. I could not imagine any other way.
Till three weeks ago, we were asked to start working from home in response to the corona virus pandemic. The first day was a Friday. Friday has a different feel to it! I love Fridays :) I loved being at home, being served tea by mom and generally doing work sitting on the dining table.
The next week was a bit different. I was in a dilemma. Since there was no office commute, sleeping a bit late was tempting. But then I had my internal routine which wanted me to log into work at 0800. Schools thankfully forced me to still rouse at a certain time and get going. The kids went to school and nursery, K to work and it was a bit of a relaxed sprint for me. I thought I would have time in the middle of the day to do my workouts and other such, but nothing of the sort happened. I was quite jealous of my other team mates (all of whom are single without kids!) who were able to carve out time for video games and Netflix! There were informal meets where team mates hung around, solved online murder mysteries, crossword puzzles and the like. But I just had work :(
Things were escalating fast. The world was winding down to a halt and it was a matter of time before the schools would be closed and all who could work from home would work from home. There were no activities for kids over the weekend, no training over weekday evening. There was a sudden lull. The first weekend, we had spare time. But no idea how to use it. When we used to have the crazy whirlwind weekends, we used to savour the time when there was a holiday or off from regular classes. Now when we had unlimited off till the end of time, we found it weird. The weather was too bad to step out (the rigid measures were yet to be implemented). There is only so much TV time that was permissible to kids in the house. But there was only so much reading, colouring, playing with toys that children could do as well. It was new for everyone of us. Everyone was feeling funny at the new set up.
We were made aware that children would be "home schooled" going forward. This was not equivalent to virtual classes. They were to be sent tasks and parents had to be the teachers. Guiding them, teaching them. In our house, both parents had to do their day job as well! To make matters worse, the schools had not streamlined their way of giving tasks (they did not have time! They were given maybe 2-3 days to prepare.) There were different sources through which work came. The worksheets were ill formed. Some didnt print fine, some tasks didnt get submitted ok. There were enormous technical glitches since some of the sites had a 500% increase in traffic! We had to be IT support along with supporting our IT tasks. With work, schooling issues, and Pumpki being younger and needing entertainment we were mega stressed.
We enlisted the services of Chiyaa to keep Pumpki entertained. Since she had her elder sis at home, she constantly wanted to play with her. Chiyaa also was tempted to play with her (Which kid wants to study when her sibling is having fun!) But Chiyaa also had her school work to complete. If she had a normal school day of 5 hours or so, it would have been ok and well spaced. But since she did not have that and we had no way of enforcing that, even Chiyaa had to stay up after Pumpki went to bed to finish her school work. It was not ideal, but there was no other way. Luckily, being someone who wants to put her best foot forward, she always gave her 100% when it came to doing her tasks. Touchwood.
I was not able to give my fullest at work and even said the same to my manager. Luckily (inspite of not having kids of her own) she was very understanding. She assured me that I needed to give the situation more time to settle down. A week, even two wasnt enough for a semblance of routine to come through in these times. And she reiterated that she had full trust in me. The definitely relieved me. One day at a time. Not someone who likes pending tasks, I started staying up late and working over the weekend to get the pending chunks of work done. I did not like it. But I did not have any other way.
Friday, end of week 1 of school closures, I checked with a few other moms on how they were faring. Most were in the same boat and barely sane. They had not been more stressed ever. One of the moms shared that one of her colleagues woke at 5 to finish the work before kids were up! This made perfect sense to me. Kids' sleep time can be flaky, but they dont tend to wake up before a certain time. In my case its 0730 at the minimum. Waking up early is not my forte since I am not a morning person at all. But then desperate times call for desperate measures. So I moved my wake up time to the 5-0530 am zone. By the time the kids arose which was around 0830-0900, I ended up having 2.5 to 3 hours to nice peaceful work.Once kids were around, there was the usual scurrying with them. Their studies, activities and the lot. As soon as I finished work, I made time for the mandatory walk to get some fresh air, even if it was for 30 minutes only. After their evening chores were over, there was still a bit of pending work to catch up on. Factoring in reading and a bit of stretches and its midnight most of the days by the time I called it a day.
I feel stressed on many days and over worked too. But I am sure I will get used to it eventually. All this will seem like the new normal. The challenge after that would be getting back to going to work!!!