Balancing remote work and home life
Solitude reminds me of backpack camping in that it brings adventure, challenges, growth, and bonding.
Having lived in Colorado for many years, I went backpack camping for 2-3 days with my son alone with our small dog up to 2 miles in the mountains where the sites provided bear safe lockers. The views were beautiful. The fresh air and smells of flowers were incredible.
The first night I ever tried to set the fire and cook, it rained and the fire kept going out, but I learned. Next time, we made fire and enjoyed warm fully cooked meals. Cooking at home regularly involves evaluating supplies and balancing meals accordingly, similar to camping.
While camping, we explored the areas and went on hikes. I learned what my son loved about nature.
History of mild asthma
When I first moved to Colorado, a mountainous state. I discovered asthma related to altitude by having a massive asthma attack and being hospitalized. Over time and with long distance sports, I eliminate the use of inhalers.
Shortness of Breath
This past Monday, I started work at 6:30am and had 5 virtual meetings. Three were back to back. Normally this would have been fine, but not last week for some reason.
By 16:00 I was exhausted and had shortness of breath that continued until bedtime (no fever or other symptoms). With shortness of breath, reading 1 chapter of my son's book during story time was difficult.
Below are my reflections and changes I made in remote work as a mom to better balance home and work. As these are personal reflections that fit my situation, these by no means replace medical advice or are a one-size-fits-all solution for others.
Shortness of breath during a pandemic is likely the worst timing for asthma to reappear. Here are some things that I immediately did to improve my life/remote work balance:
People come to virtual meetings with expectations for themselves and for others. Part of self-care is being realistic about expectations you have versus what others have.
Here are a few things to consider regarding potential gaps between expectations and reality:
Pairs or Groups
With the current health concerns across the globe, it is possible that others might also get symptoms, but at different times. If paired or grouped in 3, then critical issues can be addressed as peers let each other know when they need naps, rest, lunch, are in other meetings. This enables the team to consider new situations that arise during a pandemic.
Emails and general work
Out of office response
Kindness for others
During the past week, colleagues and neighbors have offered various support (all practicing social distancing) such as picking up my inhaler, dropping off groceries, and dropping off a computer screen for my home office. I hope to soon be able to help others as well.
I feel like a warrior at turtle speed.
Working remotely as a mom
My ideal work day is to check emails at home with coffee, walk the dogs, bike my son to school, bike to work, have lunch with my amazing colleagues, continue work on campus, pickup my son, then finish remotely.
Today I was reminded that working from home is making a plan of what you will achieve, nailing part of it, and also being surprised at other things not on your list that are achieved both by you and your child(ren).
Location, location, location
Depending on the meeting or task, I move between locations based on the:
Parenting during web meetings
There are 2 amazing buttons: mute and stop sharing video. You'll learn when to use either or both.
The mute feature can be used while covering your mouth. This allows you to be engaged in the meeting, while also telling your child to NOT do something, suggesting a next activity for them, agreeing to the snack they picked, etc. You will be amazed at the results on this one.
Suggestions before a web meeting:
While working remotely you can synchronously work on document or be in chat, but there is a completely different feeling when you are able to see and hear your colleagues.
I am most successful working remotely when I explain to my son what I'm doing, for how long it will take, and what he can do or cannot do while I'm working + what he will gain by listening.
My day feels fulfilled when major tasks are completed. Even more so when I start the day with something I want to do and end with something I enjoy, like writing or reading a good book (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).
As a parent, you know your family best. Consider working at home with them, not around them in a way that meets your needs and their needs.
Author / Autora
I'm a Learning Developer living in the Netherlands since 2018, with American and Luxembourgish nationality. This blog is dedicated to online education and originated with my take on various tools.
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