- Chronicles of a Parent Working from Home during Lockdown
Chronicles of a Parent Working from Home during Lockdown
By Didi Gorman
It’s 8:05 a.m. I’m sitting in front of my computer, sipping my coffee, ready to start my workday. Apart from writing a piece about parenting during quarantine, what else do I need to do today?
I check my emails. Not many work-related emails, but plenty of messages from school. I read through them all and add ‘explain math worksheet to child #3’, ‘download science quiz for child #2’, ‘remind child #1 there’s Facebook Live at 2:35 p.m.’, and ‘fill out survey about homeschooling’ to my tasks.
At 8:23 a.m. I’m ready to start my workday.
At 8:25 a.m. child #2 appears by my desk. She’s bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. We discuss ideas for autonomous artworks she could be doing and a few books she could be reading. She reminds me she’d already read those books six times. Hmm. True. Too bad I hadn’t had time to show her the science quiz yet, though I don’t think she’s that much into science quizzes at this moment anyway.
8:33 a.m. I’m ready to start my working day.
I work for a whopping six-minute stretch when I hear some bickering flaring up in the living room. I get up, split the warring sides, and remind them I need them to be quiet.
8:42 a.m. I’m back at my desk and ready to start working.
8:43 a.m. An email has just come in. Another worksheet for child #3. Where IS child #3 anyway? On a screen, probably. I add this to my tasks, make a mental note to remind her that too much screen is bad for her, and go back to my work.
I enjoy peace and quiet for four minutes. At 8:47 a.m. child #2 is attempting to make breakfast. I can hear the sound of whisking and whistling.
“Could you please keep quiet? I’m trying to work here!”
8:48 a.m. Back to work. Oh. Someone has just switched on the TV.
“Switch the TV off!! I’m trying to work here!”
8:49 a.m. Back to work.
“Mom, what’s the formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit?” Child #1 is doing homework. Uhm… I don’t really know now, besides, I’m trying to work.
8:53 a.m. How sweet! The children have decided to surprise me and do the laundry. Only that something had got stuck around the motor. Could I please come and check? I get up. Luckily it’s just a wet sock. I use the opportunity to explain laundry procedures, then I’m back at my desk.
8:59 a.m. Now they’re loading the dryer. A disagreement ensues about the setting they should be using and I’m being called again to intervene.
9:05 a.m. I get a notification that a TEAMS conference has just started. Oh no! My child is late! In addition, she can’t use the old computer in the basement since it tends to abruptly lose internet connection. She’ll need to use my computer. For how long? Only until 10:00 a.m. Somewhat reluctantly, I concede my computer for the benefit of remote learning.
10:03 a.m. Back at my computer and ready to start the day.
10:07 a.m. Child #3 is still waiting for me to download the math worksheets onto the old computer downstairs.
10:21 a.m. Worksheet successfully downloaded and explained. I’m back at my desk and ready to start my working day.
10:26 a.m. Something smells like it’s burning. Is someone making pancakes? I get up. The pan is way too hot. I switch it off, open the windows, and help with the rest of the pancakes.
10:41 a.m. Back at my desk, and ready to start my wor–
“Mommy, I need to borrow a pen from you. Quick!”
Okay, okay. You can have my pen. Here. Just remember to return it when you’re done.
10:42 a.m. I think I can start my workday now. At last!
10:46 a.m. The old computer downstairs has disconnected again, and child #3 is livid. She was in the middle of homework and she needs to urgently search something on the internet. (Read on my computer.)
10:51 a.m. All well now. I can definitely start my work.
10:54 a.m. They went to play outside but someone had left the door open. I get up to shut the door. They spot me and call me to look at them jumping on the trampoline. How cute, but I really need to get back to work.
10:58 a.m. Back at my desk and definitely starting my workday now.
11:01 a.m. Another email has landed in my inbox. Correction for the worksheet that had been sent earlier. I better go and tell concerned child. I think she has already started working on it.
11:05 a.m. Done. I’m now ready to start my work.
11:11 a.m. Phone call. A neighbour. “Oh, hi! Just checking to see how you guys are doing these days! All well with you?”
Yes, yes, thanks, all well. Sorry, can’t chat for long. I’m trying to work, actually.
11:15 a.m. Back to work.
11:23 a.m. The old computer downstairs has just disconnected again. Child is furious, quite rightly so. I suggest rebooting. I console child and help reboot.
11:31 a.m. As a token of appreciation, child launches a cleaning project. She just needs some help moving the sofas and the piano.
11:37 a.m. Back at my desk and ready to finally start my working day.
11:43 a.m. An email titled URGENT RESPONSE NEEDED has made it into my mailbox. Are we sending child #3 back to school, yes or no? Uhm, don’t know yet. Can we just answer maybe? I fill out the survey and send it back right away.
11:47 a.m. “Mommy, do we use three cups of water or only two when we make rice?”
I better help them in the kitchen before something goes horribly wrong.
12:12 p.m. Rice came out a little too fluffy but will have to do.
12:13 p.m. Back at my desk and ready to sta–
Hang on, there’s a Zoom call. Shoot! I completely forgot I had a Zoom call scheduled for now. How embarrassing! I log in only to let them know I’ll have to postpone. So sorry.
12:20 p.m. I’m ready to finally start my working day. Only that now I’m hungry. To lunch then.
1:19 p.m. Back at my desk and ready to start my day.
1:25 p.m. Kiddos doing the dishes. Isn’t that adorable? Only they can’t agree who should rinse the big pot. I already know the procedure. If I don’t get up on time this will escalate. I get up and give clear instructions: Child #1 to wash pan, child #2 to wash pot, child #3 to load dishwasher.
1:31 p.m. Back at my desk. I’m totally starting my workday now.
1:36 p.m. Email from concerned teacher. My child hasn’t been answering emails. Is all well?
Yes, yes, all well, I explain apologetically. Said child does not have their own computer. Sure, I will follow up. No need to worry, thanks for the thought, it’s much appreciated.
1:46 p.m. Okay. I think I can start my working day now.
Plopffff. What was that? Oh no! Somebody had left an egg on the kitchen counter and it just rolled off and broke on the floor. What a mess! Clean up squad to the rescue!
1:59 p.m. Egg saga resolved. Kitchen squeaky-clean.
2:00 p.m. I’m definitely ready to start my working day.
2:06 p.m. A thought occurs to me. Does child #1 actually get all the messages from school? I go and check. Perhaps I should have explained the usage of the online platform better. After all, this is all new. Child not very enthusiastic, but we learn how to access emails anyway. Good. I think it went well. I could have been a pretty good teacher, come to think of it.
2:33 p.m. Nothing, but nothing(!) will prevent me from starting my working d–
Oh, what was that? Facebook Live? Now? On my computer? With your English teacher? It can’t possibly wait?
No. It can’t. Session is too long to be watched on iPhone. Screen too small. True. Okay. I guess you should go on Facebook Live on my computer, then.
3:41 p.m. Not bad that Facebook Live, actually. I learned a thing or two about modern American literature. And now, finally, I can start my working day.
3:49 p.m. What do you mean you can’t send Word documents from your cell phone? You need to write an entire essay? Now? On Word? On my computer? Your teacher is waiting? Okay, okay. Go ahead, just make it quick.
4:52 p.m. Wow. That was one long essay. Very profound. At least I used the time to go for a walk and fold the laundry. I will now really have to start my working day.
4:53 p.m. Nobody needs anything from me or from my computer anymore. This is great news. To work then! But now I can’t remember what it was that I needed to do today. Ah yes. Write a piece about parenting during lockdown. Right. Frankly, I’m too tired now to even think about this concept. I guess it will just have to wait for another day.