Distanced. Episode 3 - Expectations

I have been a work-at-home-mom for just over two years now. And it's been great. Well, not always great, but overall I am so glad I made the decision to quit my job and start out on this journey.

And other than the times when Ron worked third and first shifts, we had a pretty good routine going. I would work in my office until about 2:30, then I would take over kid duty for the evening when he went to work.

But now? Everything has changed. Sorry, almost everything has changed. Ron still works second shift, but other than that, everything has changed.

Back in February, we were looking forward to school starting this fall. We would have two kids in school all day, five days a week and Batgirl would go to school for four hours two days a week. That meant about 8 hours of quiet, kid-free time each week, and for the rest of the time, quality dad-and-daughter time while I worked.

Oh, how optimistic.

Cut to today. The world is falling apart. And we decided to keep everyone home!

So, time to change some expectations. Expectations about schoolwork, screen-time, bedtimes, wake-up times, meal times, visiting family, and working.  Although, we have already relaxed a lot of our expectations and rules about most of these.  But we do need to figure out how I can get back to a more regular work schedule.

 So, what do we do??

Step one. Define work spaces and times. 
Since I am the one who will be monitoring schoolwork most of the time and it will most likely happen before Ron goes to work, step one is setting up all workstations in the same room. For us, this is the dining room. We happen to have an extra table that was being used as a computer desk for Batman, so we moved it to the dining room for the boys. I have taken over the back half of the dining room table. We got this going already and the boys have starting using their computers for PBS Kids and other educational games.

Step two. Manage my work expectations. 
I have my own freelance business and I work with the family publishing business. I have decided that I am going to make the publishing business my priority during the school year. My freelancing will be scaled back; I will continue to work with the clients I have, but I won't be actively looking for new clients. This should give me enough to keep me busy, and a team to keep me accountable as well as giving myself some grace to not do it all.

Step three. Know my limits. 
I know that my capacity for what I can mentally handle has gone down since March. Hopefully it goes back up, but until then, I need to be able to say no to anything that is outside the main functions of our house. This is a lot easier to do these days, but still something I struggle with. (I like to help people.)

Step four. Plan. 
It really is amazing how much putting pen to planner helps get my mind on track. But it's something that I push to the back burner more often than not these days. But why? Probably because my days have been so routine with not doing much outside of keeping everyone fed and clean, I haven't felt the need to plan. But, I'm finding that these are the times that I really do need to plan. Even if it's just what's for dinner.

Step five. Relax. 
This is incredibly important now considering my recent health issues. I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders, and by the end of the day, my upper back is so tight, it is hard to relax. The addition of some guided meditations, sleep stories, and mental health check-ins during the day has helped me take a few moments to focus on actively releasing that tension. I have a phone app to help me with this, and even with its reminders, I do find myself ignoring it. But, I'm working on making this a priority.

There it is, my five step plan to how I'll be able to work this year. I'm sure some of these steps will fall apart a few times, but hopefully will be picked back up easily.  
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