All in a day's work
Going back to work - after a rather exciting maternity leave, to say the least - meant a lot more than a full paycheck. It meant returning to a real, everyday life: not only there’ll be no constant talking about diapers and baby foods, I’ll have a chance to get back to myself. Because like I said, the maternity leave was exciting.
We started with the adaptation to the kindergarten in a timely manner, and although coronavirus was already all around us, everything seemed just fine. However, some 20 days later, I was forced to prepare a plan of working from home. And the initial two-week plan was extended for another two weeks, and then for another week, and another… All of a sudden, kindergartens were closed, and the regular elementary school classes were being organized online. Restrictions on movement were introduced, and orders were issued. And just like that, all four of us were locked in the apartment almost 24/7. Only the father of the family was courageously going grocery hunting every day, and soon we’ve had our shelves stacked with cans, pasta, rice, and other groceries that can last a long time. Every now and then, I would start panicking about us not having a ton of flour in the house (although I do not know how to bake bread), but we eventually managed to purchase several kilograms (and now my mother is using those reserves to make pastries and pies).
Days were starting like ordinary work days, before 8 a.m., because I was supposed to be online as early as at 8 a.m., my husband even earlier than that. Our daily routine included a seemingly never-ending line of breakfasts, online classes, snacks, online meetings, putting the baby to sleep… Each and every day, we had to literally force our schoolboy just to pick up the textbook. And even today, during the online week, motivation is our greatest challenge.
I felt grateful - probably countless times - for the fact that internet connections weren’t strong enough to handle the video conferences of as many as 30 people, so I was able to have the video turned off. Which means that I have attended most of the trainings in my pajamas, listening while preparing a meal or changing diapers for the umpteenth time. With the exception of trainings I was in charge of, when my husband needed to look after our children. Still, the ‘mute’ button helped me prevent my co-workers from hearing a lot of crying and shouting. Days when I was scheduled only to read online material or take online tests were the easiest ones, and I can proudly say that I have achieved excellent results.
Earlier, the very thought of me working from home seemed intriguing. Why not, I would find myself thinking. There would be no morning rush, no make-up or the need to get dressed as soon as I wake up… No pushing and shoving in the hallway until there is a shoe on each and every foot… At home, with children. Hot and healthy meals. Hugs before noon naps... Playing with kids between two business tasks. Me doing my job at one end of the table, schoolboy happily solving math problems at the other. Idyll…
But, from where I stand right now and with this experience in mind - never again. The old saying ‘there’s business, and then there’s pleasure’ comes to mind, and it is proven to be true. And can absolutely be applied to work-from-home situation. Workplace and home should not be the same. I’ve decided a long time ago that I would not be dwelling on family issues at work, or taking the work home. Because that is the only way for me to completely dedicate myself to each of those aspects of my life, to avoid ‘stealing’ family time for work, or vice-versa. Truth be told, I’ve introduced this principle after I gave birth to my first child - because prior to that, work often ended up being taken home. Now, I really do not allow my job over the doorstep, even if it means staying longer in the office or in the field. Just as I don’t take my family issues to work, which is one in a series of lessons learned. So, unless absolutely necessary, I would rather not be repeating the adventure of working from home. Not with my job description, not with the way I have organized my family life. And even though we’ve had healthy meals and hugged hard before bed, even though all the deadlines have been met, excellent test results have been achieved and great trainings have been conducted.
Because, no matter how this might sound, I am the mother of this family and as a mother, I have a lot of weight to carry around. Sometimes inseparable. And the job steals me from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and during occasional business trips. Which, as a true mother, I use for a good night’s sleep…
Author: Tea Memic