By Brittany Ryzenga

I wrote a newsletter article exactly one year ago to the month, titled, Making the Most Out of Every Hour, focusing on redefining the way we view work-life balance as not so much a 50/50 balance of hours, but instead, focusing on quality of time spent over quantity.  While I still agree with the idea of not putting so much stress on the amount of time spent, rather, leaning in with full intent to what’s being done at the present moment and making the most out of every hour… Enter a second child and Covid-19.  Now, as a working (remote from home) mother, I find myself wondering, “how can I focus on one thing right now when I’m juggling ALL the things?”  Many working parents are now finding themselves in the same situation as they work from home and figure out a “new normal.”  If I were to read that article now, I’m still in agreeance with the overall quality over quantity thought but I’d also laugh at the simplicity of achieving that “balance” prior to Covid-19.  Now it’s a whole other level!

Mom guilt?  It’s real.  Working-parent-guilt?  Also real.  Work-from-home parent guilt?  Real too.  Have work-from-home mothers (or parents- I’m just speaking from a mother’s point of view) have it figured out with juggling all of the things?  I started the Covid-19 pandemic with just that goal in mind… to juggle and manage it all. 

At the start of the crazy circumstances and as our stay at home orders began, I had just had a newborn a few short weeks prior and now had a 5 year-old home from school (due to school closures) and was working remote.  I put pressure on myself to have everything perfectly handled- meals planned and prepped, the house kept tidy, workouts squeezed in, homeschooling, activity/craft planning, around a newborn’s naps and feedings all while completing work projects, emails and participating in conference calls.  I would almost pride myself that I could do it all, often working (on all tasks) early in the morning before the kids were awake, over nap/rest time, and if wasn’t too exhausted, after they went to sleep.  However, the truth is, it’s not sustainable to attain the “perfect balance” and stretch ourselves so thin in aspiration of managing it all. It’s overwhelming and exhausting.

There’s a lot to juggle right now for anyone during Covid-19 (just with worry of the unknown alone), making it hard for us to focus on that quality time.  So, as working parents, it’s important to learn to let-go, forgive yourself and give yourself grace and accept the accomplishment of attaining the “imperfect balance.”

I believe balance is still important.  Focusing on quality time over quantity? Even more important, especially during the chaotic times we’re in, but knowing that it may not be perfect.
I schedule my weeks in advance… Getting up well before the kids are up to start my day with self-care in order to have a fresh, positively motivated mind for the day, then focus on accomplishing what tasks matter most before the day “starts”.  Set aside and plan time each day for doing what matters most that day (both work and family) and determine what you’ll work on when, setting aside intense focus hours (whether that be on work or family where you try to focus just on that task) but learn to forgive yourself and accept that the plan may go out the window.  Focus and intention is good.  There’s no better picture of intense focus than that of a mother whose baby is stirring from nap and she’s almost done writing a newsletter.

I find myself writing newsletter articles on/like balance or being present, and getting a better night’s sleep…. Realizing because that’s work I’m currently focusing on.

I’ve learned, as mothers, working parents, and/or work-from-home parents, we can’t escape the guilt that comes with being a dedicated parent and employee and will always feel there’s something we could have done better or could be better at… it’s learning to accept the imperfect balance.

I think we need to all remind ourselves right now that this is all new, we’re not in control and can’t try to manage it ALL…. Learn to celebrate the wins, point out our gratitudes, and plan but be forgiving.