My husband Richard and I have grappled with the challenges of simultaneously working and homeschooling our three children aged 9, 7 and 4. A stickler for orderliness, Richard created a homeschooling time table consisting of three subjects in the morning, chores, play, art and craft, coding and reading every weekday. Nonchalantly, I watched him draw it up, keeping an eye on the time-table and another on the increasingly worrying daily news updates I could not seem to block off since my job as PR practitioner and content marketer entailed my staying online.
While Richard’s timetable brought order and predictability to the kids’ lives, I struggled to keep up with our four-year-old son, who assumed my being home meant I was now available to play with him. With looming work deadlines, I found myself drowning in despair, unable to homeschool our children. Consequently, I suffered panic attacks and became increasingly impatient, snapping at everyone in the house over trivialities.
Meanwhile, day after day, Richard remained focused enough to get his office work rolling while breaking up fights among our kids, supervising short breaks and managing our son’s short attention span while I barely managed to create a sustainable routine for myself.
One evening, while we were reconstructing a jigsaw puzzle that was our #StayHome challenge, I confessed to Richard that if I was overwhelmed and that if he did not help with housework and homeschooling, I would break down. From then on, he took over homeschooling the kids, much to my relief, as well as the role of bathing our son. And when our nanny quit six months into the pandemic, we all rolled up our sleeves and got busy with chores.
Richard and our son started a vegetable and flower garden, our daughters did the dishes, while my husband and I cleaned and cooked, with our son serving as sous chef when I baked and experimented with new recipes.
Every so often, after tucking the kids into bed, Richard and I reflected on how, despite the pandemic’s devastation, we became stronger as a couple and family. We were spending more time together, working out as a unit in the evening, and making a concerted effort to make the most of a less than ideal situation. Somehow, amidst the fear and uncertainty of the times, we had come to appreciate and dedicate our time to that which we treasure the most: family.