::: First & foremost; all of us here at The Mom Projecthope you and your families are staying well + safe. That's the most important thing and the rest is just that: the rest. :::
#WFHWK is the job that, frankly, none of us signed up for. And if you're a single parent there's no tapping out of this new- normal-groundhog-day. But there's hope, and hacks, and happiness -- ahead!
After a few of our #WFHWK posts last week WE HEARD YOU. What about single parents!?
And indeed, we are living that life over here too -- so our Single Mom-In-Residence (Tini, Mom of Twins and our Operations Guru on the Community Team) stepped in to guest write this blog, just for you. Just for all of us! Shoutout to the single parents out there, we see you/hear you/support you.
ALL THE SINGLE PARENTS (all the single parents) ALL THE SINGLE PARENTS (all the single parents) ALL THE SINGLE PARENTS (all the single parents) Now put your hands up!
“Uh-oh” is right.
Welcome to week 3 of quarantine with me (single mom) and my kids (twin 5 year old boys). Household control has gone from a solid 8+ to a wishful 4. Who am I kidding? It’s a 3. Ish.
Dirty laundry? Yep, still there! Video calls with my team? Not gonna happen! Self care? Are you f-ing serious?!
My kids are really good at entertaining themselves -- but an abrupt schedule shift and minimal face time (the IRL kind, not the iPhone kind) with anyone outside our family has taken its toll. Read: we’re slowly but surely losing our minds.
Let’s be real for a minute. Handling my family by myself as a single parent is normal. What’s not normal? Being business-me and mommy-me at the same time, all day, without any real breaks, like ever. To be honest: THIS IS HARD. So what do we do?
We start somewhere. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
UGH. That is so annoyingly true, especially right now. I’ve tried … a lot of things the last few weeks. Some have worked great! Most have been laughable! But we’re in this together and have so much collective experience to share -- as parents (single or not) blazing the #WFHWK trail.
See, #WFHWK has us all *way* outside our element. This is another dimension, full of 11am coffee shakes, entire days without eating an actual meal (kid’s leftover lunch scraps kinda count, right?), to do lists getting tackled but nothing really getting crossed off.
I put my hands up!
A quick bio: Operations is my jam. I live in Chicago and head up community operations and growth initiatives for The Mom Project. I’m great at problem solving, spotting outliers and opportunities and literally keeping the machine well-oiled.
So when our school shut down two weeks ago I went into ops overdrive to solve how to make #WFHWK actually, you know, work. My first question seemed obvious. “Now that I’m wearing ALL the hats ALL at once, how can I be effective ALL the time in ALL the places?”
I … can’t. There, I said it. I CAN’T. (“I” being literally any of us.)
That felt good. Now let’s look at what we CAN do.
(Hint: it’s going to be fine, and enough, and FINE! Deep breaths.)
Make A Schedule
On paper! Having a physical list to reference helps ground and guide your day. Use a format your kids understand and put it smack on the fridge for all to see. Blocks of general activities are better than set times (i.e. breakfast, play, school, lunch, etc) because it’s easier to stick to a flow than a clock these days!
Combine Chores & Activities
Toy Cleanup + Workout: Throw a kid on your back and do lunges and squats while you’re picking up toys.
Laundry + Dance Party: Kids burn off steam while you fold to the beat.
BLDS (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks): Prep all the day’s meals while you’re making breakfast. Slice fruits and veggies, marinate chicken, put baskets with grab and go snacks on the kitchen table with fresh water bottles. A slow cooker is your friend right now, use it!
Work Deadlines + Self-Care: Face mask during conference calls! And shower while the kids eat dinner so you’re ready to tackle any lingering work once they’re in bed for the night.
Engage Your Kids
Trust me -- it’s way less effort to get the kids involved than it is to try and keep them away while you work. Rotate their toys a couple times a week, give them two screen time windows a day (one for educational games, one for fun), and give them “work” tasks (prep for a call, make paintings for presentations) so they’re busy alongside you.
Prioritize, Then Pad, Deadlines
What’s really hot? What can wait? Get clear on your to-dos -- then cushion those deadlines. Things will take longer than you think in your new office with your new coworkers. Be open and communicative -- with your team, your manager, yourself. And repeat after me: “I’m doing my best with what I have today. It won’t be perfect but that’s ok!”
Now for the truly important one ...
Give Yourself Credit
(Lots of it). Self-compassion (a ton of it). Leeway to make mistakes (endless amounts of it). What worked yesterday may be an epic disaster today. Time to roll with it!
So while we’re all in this #WFHWK universe together -- apart -- let’s put all the ideas for surviving AND thriving as employees and parents on the table (in the comments). I can’t wait to learn from YOU.
Yours Truly, Tini, Single Mom of Twin Boys, Operations Whiz