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Working from Home Provides a Window into Stay-at-Home Parenting

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ELISA JÄRNEFELT
  • Elisa Järnefelt

After 11 weeks, the isolation and social distancing of COVID-19 still do not feel normal, but our family has gotten used to it. We have created our own weekly routine, involving trips to the woods and Zoom classes. As before the pandemic, I work every morning at home while my husband spends time with our 3-year-old daughter. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., I am with our daughter, while my husband works in his home office. A cardboard sign hangs from the knob of his door.

We have painted one side green and the other side red. Green means "Knock before entering," and red means "Do not disturb." Every once in a while, it actually works.

A few days ago, I asked my husband what working from home has made him realize about our family life.

His answer: "Creating structure for a toddler is challenging. I now see every day what you as a mom are doing to build structure in her life: You create a schedule; you are conscious of when exactly she needs to nap, when to have lunch, when to leave the woods to get home at a certain time. I am more aware of how important that is now, and I realize that I haven't had to figure out how to do that myself. I think I now have even more respect for stay-at-home parents because creating that structure is so challenging. It also changes constantly as the child grows. So, once you figure out something that works, there's no guarantee that it works the next month. Before, I wasn't aware of the impact of this constant problem solving on you. Now I am. And I try to help when I can."

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