My wife Whitney and I have been working from home for three weeks now. It has been an adjustment, but I thought I would share with you what has been working for us during this time. We agreed on each of these points and Whitney has shared some thoughts here as well. As a working couple with three kids, we suspect many of you are struggling with some of the same things we are right now. So, here are a few things that have helped us stay sane during quarantine!
1. Set a Schedule for the Kids
We have three children who are here as well. As we both typically work away from home at an office, balancing family and work life has been hard. For the first week or so, it felt like all we were doing was managing requests from the kids. However, once we set a schedule for them and gave them a copy for themselves, it gave all of us–kids included!–a sense of relief. In fact, I think some structure has been really good for them. Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been some days where we are all tired and sick of this and we just let them become tablet/tv zombies for a while. We won’t let that happen all the time, but hey, sometimes you just do what it takes. However, a schedule has helped us govern the day with a little more ease.
A word from Whitney:
As important as a schedule has become for us, it’s important to remember to be flexible. Schedules were made for man; man was not made for schedules. Also, it’s been important for me to remember that our kids don’t have to work on school work all day. A couple of hours a day is appropriate for their ages.
2. Create a Dedicated Work Space
In our current home, we have a sun room that Whitney and I have set up as command central for work. Her desk (and my table from the church) are close to one another. I am in charge of the tunes. It has actually been pretty fun to work together each day. I have tended to want to get up, get dressed (something with a collar; leave me alone, it makes me feel better), and come to my “office.” It has been helpful to have a space where I can pile up books and my other stuff and leave it that way.
A word from Whitney:
Thankfully, I work for a wonderful company that has been so supportive of my co-workers and I working remotely. That being said, I was allowed to actually get my entire computer set up from my office and bring it all to our house. That has been essential to actually being able to really get effective work done from home. I have a laptop that I carry to and from my office everyday, but having multiple screens, an actual keyboard and mouse, and all of my work files here has been very helpful to me. Mat was able to also bring his screens and books from his office, as well. We both agree that having our actual desks set up for work has been instrumental during this time.
3. Go to Work and Get Off On Time
As a pastor, the last 3 weeks have been among the busiest and most work-intensive that I have experienced. There is so much to do and the temptation is to work all the time. Further, when you are working from home this becomes even more difficult. It’s been helpful for me to get up, “go to work,” and actually stop when it is time. Furthermore, I am trying to make sure I am taking time “off” as well. Typically, I take Friday and Saturday off from work. During this season, while I am doing something church-related every day, I am trying to “take off” early on Thursday and Friday, and then dedicating most of the day Saturday to something other than work. (I always work on stuff for Sunday, and finish up my sermon, on Saturday nights. I am useless from about supper time forward for anything but that.)
A word from Whitney:
I try to stick to some semblance of a schedule about “going” to and from work. I try to make sure the kids are settled and fed before I sit down for the morning so I can have the full morning period to work. Then, I make sure Mat and I both stop working when it’s lunch, and we all sit down and have lunch together. (I LOVE this!) After lunch, I get the kids settled again, and I finish up my afternoon at my desk. I try to quit work around 4p so that I have time to cook dinner, spend time with the kids and Mat (away from work), pack a couple of boxes (did I mention we are moving right now?!?!), and rest. I am a workaholic, so I am constantly checking email and texts from work, but I try to not sit back down at my desk after I quit for the day. This helps so much!
4. Be Flexible and Enjoy It
It has been important for me to remind myself what a unique, special time this is. My church has been amazingly kind, gracious, and encouraging to me during this time. Our staff has been unreal in the way they have stepped up and worked hard during this season. And, I get to do my job and spend time with my family in the process. Isn’t that awesome? So, we take breaks. We do things that bring us joy. We eat meals together. We are trying to be flexible and enjoy this time. We are watching movies at night. Whitney and I are trying to have “date night” a couple of nights a week. It can be hard at times, but we are committed to keep enjoying this even though it is difficult!
A word from Whitney:
No one wrote a rule book for this time. Things are insane, so the Alexanders are taking this day by day. Things aren’t perfect. I have to stop work to take the dog out, refill a juice cup, comfort a crying four year old who fell down while playing outside, get a snack, and so on. And that’s okay. Breaks are so good. My kids love to go for walks, so we have been trying to do that. Breaks are good for them, too.
I told my boss yesterday that I am trying to stay positive during this time. I am focusing on what is good about this ordeal– spending a lot of time with family, still being able to work (my business is considered essential), cooking at home, tackling small projects, reading A LOT, date nights at home with Mat, extra snuggle time with my kids in the morning– there’s so much GOOD to this time. I am naturally a “homebody” so I am not struggling as much as some people are (ahem, Mat). I started working full-time around this time last year, so I have missed being at home as much, so this time has been good for me.
Try to focus on the good. Try to stay positive and look for the small ways God is blessing us during this time. That is good for your heart and soul.