What Remaining in the Workforce Looks Like for This Millennial Mom
It has been ten months of trying to maintain my role as a digital marketer working from home while having a 5 and 3-year-old literally at my side.
I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also broken down a lot. I have questioned many times if this is something I can keep doing.
Reflecting on almost a year of this cycle there are certain realizations.
Moms are mentally tough as hell.
Working while mothering brings about a level of mental exhaustion like none other.
My son is doing remote learning at home for kindergarten. He has a list of 8 videos to watch, 2 classes to call into, 3 worksheets to complete, a journal entry to post to Seesaw, and 2 apps to sign into. This is all in one day.
There isn’t only his to-do list, but I have my own list of meetings and emails to focus on as well. It’s pretty normal for me to sit on the floor with my laptop attempting to work while also running through flashcards of kindergarten sight words. Both our activities are blurred. My brain is all over the place trying to keep track of what needs to be completed.
I never understood the definition of long workdays until now.
My children wake up before 7 a.m. which means breakfast is complete by 7:30. With no need to get ready, coffee is in hand and my laptop is open before 8 a.m.
I scan to view the back-to-back meetings in my outlook calendar. I see no break these days. There will be no time to pause and regain my mental sanity. The evenings continue to be a mix of stepping away between 5 and 6 p.m. and jumping online later to send one last email.
I have never worked longer or harder in my life. My work hours blend into my personal time. My children need attention despite the number of to-do’s still waiting in my inbox.
My kids have been known to request Oreos at 10 a.m. In any other reality that would be an automatic no. But in a world with children crowding my office space (which is really my laptop on the kitchen table) with senior leadership on the video starring back at me, Oreos seem like the only immediate solution.
I hate that our village has been reduced to video calls.
Most of us have all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s more like me, my husband, and everyone else via technology for our scenario. Our village has amounted to faces we occasionally get to see through a screen.
My kids have been out of daycare since March 2020. I have their preschool binders as evidence of when they were physically in a classroom.
Grandparents haven’t been an option for in-person entertainment to stay safe. There are no overnight stays or weekend getaways to meme and papal’s house to give mom and dad a break.
How in the world single parents are in this same scenario and still functioning absolutely blows my mind.
The only reason I have lasted this long is that my husband is home too.
If he wasn’t also remotely working with me, the stress and pressure would have conquered me long ago.
A big reason I’m still surviving in the day-to-day is that I have another adult in the house helping me juggle. He knows my struggles best. He experiences them firsthand as well. In the most stressful moments I have someone to consult with, and he reminds me of my value when I feel like I’m failing at everything. Thank God I have him.
Covid has given me the gift of knowing how strong the two of us can be together to take care of our family of four. We have been tested, and he’s been my rescuer pulling me out of the water so I don’t drown.
My attention is no doubt scattered all over the place every day. One moment I’m sitting in my daughter’s bedroom trying to put a dress on her barbie. The next I’m logging in to my son’s Google meet. At times I’m barricading myself in the bedroom to jump on a call to discuss new processes. Then before you know it, I’m making pb&j sandwiches and cutting up fruit for lunch.
I’ve had many times I want to quit. I want to stop the mental exhaustion of it all and focus only on my kids. I’m mentally numb when dinner rolls around. It’s hard to think clearly after a non-stop day of accelerating and pivoting from one thing to the next.
Honestly, I still don’t know how long this routine will last. What I fear is the fact that none of what I’m doing has the attention it deserves.
When I look back on this time, I hope I’ll remember I did my best to survive. I know without question, I’ll wonder how in the world I did it without losing my mind.