I came back from maternity leave on February 28. Exactly one week later, my 6-month old got the flu. Two days later, my husband and I were down for the count. Four days after that, Verizon put its work-from-home strategy in place. So, here we are in Week 12 of working at home with my husband, 2.5-year-old daughter and now 9-month-old son.
I started a running list of the funny things that happen around here throughout the day, in hopes that one day I’ll look back at them and laugh. And, I’m sharing them here, and inviting you to do the same.
This isn’t advice. Trying to work at home and be present for your family is tough. I’m not making any claims that I have it figured out. I also know there are lots of people out there who are in more challenging situations than we are right now. But, if you do find yourself in mine, I invite you to laugh at the crazy that’s happening at my house, and share your own.
As for the title of this little blog, I sneak down to the kitchen around 3 PM every day and take a few swigs of my favorite, terrible-for-you soft drink. Hey, whatever helps you get through, right?
Thursday, March 19
My daughter asked if we were done working at 9:05 AM. I’m considering it the quarantine version of “Are we there yet?”
End of day - She’s telling us that she’s not just Elsa, she’s Anna AND Elsa. What does this say about our mental state? I think much…
Monday, March 23
I’m now tracking the length of the baby’s naps by conference call. Today, he fell asleep before I called VZTV producer Kevin Higgins to learn how to record a Google Hangout, and woke up sometime before I talked to CO Tech Joseph Ruscito. I’ll figure out the elapsed time later…
In what may be our greatest (only?) parenting achievement to date in this endeavor, we had two kids napping simultaneously for 1 hour today. Win!
Today, my baby officially achieved “annoying little brother” status - at 6 months old. He got up from an afternoon nap before my daughter. We laid him on the floor in the living room - and he immediately started rolling to get to ALL of the things she doesn’t like him to have. Puzzle pieces, her stuffed lamb, play ice cream cart. It’s like he knows…
Tuesday, March 24
Today, I had to tell my team I’d be a few minutes late for a conference call because my daughter wasn’t done on the potty.
Today’s “make-it-through-the-afternoon” movie is Beauty and the Beast. Or as my daughter would say “Booty and the Beast” (which, via Google, my husband found to be a Three Stooges routine, and not something X-rated. Whew!)
Wednesday, March 25
I think we’re starting to adjust to this new routine. I submit the following as proof:
My daughter has started commenting on Jeremy’s wardrobe during the live broadcast. Don’t worry - nothing too bad. “Blue shirt!” she says.
She’s also started sitting at the dining room table with me. I’m on a conference call. She’s coloring. “I doing my work.” Indeed.
Thursday, March 26
We both have a lot of work to do this afternoon. Did you know The Sound of Music is 3.5 hours long? It’s going to get us through to 5 PM. And she LOVES it. A classic (available on Disney +) for the win.
Friday, March 27
Two weeks into this, and I’ve decided that wireless headphones are a must. The baby keeps grabbing the wired ones out of my ears if I’m trying to hold him while I’m on calls. Purchase made at 11 PM via MyVerizon app.
Saturday, March 28
As we’re getting ready for lunch, my daughter asks if it’s time to watch “mommy’s friend.” No Up To Speed Live today, so we do the next best thing - call Jeremy and his wife Alex and have a brief chat. They’re good sports, thank goodness.
Tuesday, March 31
Wireless headphones are amazing. I made it through three conference calls this morning without having them pulled out of my ears. Win!
While I was on one of the calls, my daughter found and was playing with my wallet. Debit card is now nowhere to be found. Lose! To be continued...
Wednesday, April 1
Jeremy gave my daughter and her sandwich a shout out on today's Up To Speed Live. She mostly looked bewildered/confused, but it was still fun. She's a very loyal fan.
My husband did our grocery shopping this afternoon. Our local store is limiting the number of people allowed in at a time, so we thought it would be best to try to go at an off time. Mt. Dew supply replenished. Debit card still not found.
Thursday, April 2
I love the suggestions you’ve been sharing in the comments here. Today, I did our daily Up To Speed planning call pacing my living room with the baby in a carrier strapped to me. He tolerated it about as long as he tolerates any position - exactly 20 minutes. Thanks for the idea, Jeb Charles!
Friday, April 3
We watch Up To Speed Live during lunch, like always. As I’ve mentioned, my daughter knows that lunchtime = time to watch “mommy’s friend” Jeremy. Today’s exchange:
Daughter, looking at Hans on screen - Mommy’s friend?
(How does one explain “CEO of a Fortune 20 company” to a toddler?)
Me: Sort of. He’s the big boss.
Daughter: Oh. I the little boss.
...There is more truth to this statement that I would perhaps like to admit.
Tuesday, April 7
I like to think that as a mom of two “happy spitter” babies, I have a fairly high tolerance for spit up. I had to change my clothes twice today. Add this to the list of “things I don’t usually have to worry about in Basking Ridge.”
Thursday, April 9
My daughter (who’s spending most of her time in PJs these days) has decided that she needs to put a tutu on to go outside before dinner. Quarantine fashion is reaching new heights, my friends.
Friday, April 10
Finishing out the week with an afternoon viewing of Mary Poppins. A classic, and one of my favorites. Watching it with my daughter, I realize that I have never been so jealous of Mary Poppins’ ability to snap her fingers and put toys away. Spit spot!
Sunday, April 12
Our son is now 7.5 months old, and between rolling over and the newly-mastered Army crawl, is into literally everything. Toys. Wires. Books with paper pages. Anything he’s not supposed to have. I break down and order something called a “Versatile Play Space.” Let’s call it what it is - it’s baby jail. This is totally going to solve all my problems. Or he’ll hate it. I'll let you know.
Wednesday, April 15
Both kids got dressed in real clothes before noon today (!). I spent way too much time looking for the baby’s socks and putting them back on. Back to pajamas for him tomorrow.
Thursday, April 16
Trying to find a way to keep a toddler occupied, and even a little active, while we’re both trying to work during the day is tough. Last week, my husband found a yoga series for kids on Amazon Prime where they tell a story as you go through the various poses. My daughter asks to do it just about every day. Which is cool. Except the other day I thought she was asking for frozen yogurt at 10am when she was actually asking for Frozen (the movie)-themed yoga. Got it. Also, we are ice cream people in this house. Namaste.
Monday, April 20
I helped facilitate the Q&A as part of the Finance team’s webcast. Taking Jeremy’s advice, I raise my laptop camera to eye level - with the help of Sports Illustrated’s Football’s Greatest and Disney Bedtime Favorites. My husband takes on the task of keeping both kids relatively quiet for an entire hour.
Tuesday, April 21
Our toddler is pretty much the baby’s favorite source of entertainment. Today when he was getting fussy after lunch (you know, because I was washing dishes instead of freeing him from the high chair), I asked her to try to make him laugh. She started yelling “BOO!” at the top of her lungs, and doing some sort of yodel-type thing. Weird? Yes. Did it work? It did!
Wednesday, April 22
It’s supposed to be nap time for our daughter. I can hear her running back and forth from her bed to the bookshelf in her room. She’s not exactly stealth. All I can think of is this line from Home Alone. “Do you know you’re one of the great cat burglars in the world, Marv? Do you think you could keep it down there, huh?”
Thursday, April 23
Today would have been "Take Your Kids to Work Day." To all of you for whom every day has become just that, I salute you. Have a story to share? Leave it in the comments.
Monday, April 27
UPDATE: “Versatile play space” aka “baby jail” arrived over the weekend. We waited until this morning to try it out, and he doesn’t hate it. My daughter is fascinated enough with it that she keeps asking to get in too. Didn’t see that one coming.
Tuesday, April 28
My husband decides that calling it “baby jail” maybe makes us sound like terrible parents and renames it “the pig pen” because the baby is so hungry and messy at mealtimes lately. It may also be a reference to the state of our entire house.
Wednesday, April 29
Some days, being two is rough. She had a mini-meltdown when her Easter basket was nowhere to be found. I brought it back up from the basement. Mom observation of the day: Parenting is constantly wondering “Am I picking my battles or creating a monster?”
Sunday, May 3
Someone* accidentally rolled the office chair that’s now sitting at the dining room table into a wall, leaving some pretty large, dark, scuff marks on a white wall. Public Service Announcement - a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will totally take them away.
*Confession - I am that someone.
Monday, May 4
The “pigpen” continues to prove to be a solid investment. In addition to keeping the baby contained, and relatively happy, it’s proven to be great exercise. By the time it’s lost its usefulness, I may be ready to become an Olympic hurdler. Or a Rockette. Dare to dream!
Wednesday, May 6
I stepped in for Jeremy to host Up To Speed Live. My family usually watches the daily broadcast over lunch, but today, our daughter had a conflict. Her teacher at daycare had organized a Zoom call with her preschool class. So, the first broadcast she missed in 37 days was the one her mom hosted. Oh well. If you missed it too, you can check out the replay. For those of us not present, we’ll sadly never know what that Zoom call with ten 2 and 3-year-olds actually looked like.
Thursday, May 7
This weekend is Mother’s Day. To our V Team moms, I wish for you whatever it is that will bring you joy - whether that’s boisterous video chats and phone calls all day, or some solo time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Or maybe, just the right balance of both (and your favorite caffeinated beverage). Happy Mother’s Day!
Sunday, May 10
I’ve mentioned it before, but Mary Poppins is still a big hit in our house. My daughter and I went for a walk, with her riding her trike. At one point, she stretched out her arms and yelled, “Birds, come to me!” Somehow, I don’t think she’d be a fan of the experience if they actually obeyed.
Monday, May 11
Her new favorite phrase is “No way!” We hear it pretty much all day. It’s only [somewhat] amusing when it’s totally out of context.
Tuesday, May 12
Why do babies love wires so much? Why?! When he’s not contained in “the pigpen” my laptop’s power cable is the first thing he’s after. Now I’m the one saying “No way” twenty times a day.
Thursday, May 14
This week has been tough. Nobody who’s allowed and encouraged to nap in the middle of the day has been doing much of it. The conference calls are frequent. The kids are loud. There may be teething involved. I’ve got no more adorable stories, but did across a few things this week that I really identified with, and thought I’d share.
- Want to know what it’s like to have two adults attempting to work with two young kids? This Washington Post story pretty much nails it. I’m also fairly certain my daughter is doing the same yoga series as these kids.
- Some days it’s easy to feel like you can’t keep up with everything you seemingly have to. This article from Today.com helped me put some things into perspective.
Monday, May 18
Things that made my daughter cry today:
I cut up one of “her” strawberries (from the container in the fridge, I might add) for her brother to try (See photo evidence that she still likes him, it’s me that’s the problem...)
Needing to use the potty during Up To Speed Live, and missing the opening “Up To Speed” graphic. Her fandom is getting intense, and we ended up watching the replay. (I’m also slightly concerned that she thinks Jeremy is my only friend.)
Tuesday, May 19
Things the baby almost ate today:
The tags on the bottom of the dining room chairs
An ant trap
My arm (Ouch! The teething thing is in full swing...)
Wednesday, May 20
What’s appropriate attire when you have a video conference call with your boss’s boss’s boss, but are also likely to end up wearing smashed sweet potatoes by the end of the day? This work-from-home situation could really inspire an entirely new fashion segment. Now, what to call it?
Thursday, May 21
Mom thought of the day: Is this quarantine making my kid strange, or are toddlers just weird? I have confirmed with at least three other sources that this is a question we’re asking ourselves just about daily. Thoughts, V Team parents?
Sunday, May 24
Win of the week: Debit card, which has been missing since March 31, has been found. I remain unsure if I misplaced it myself or if my daughter had something to do with it.
Tuesday, May 26
Fail of the week: At the end of our daily Up To Speed planning meeting, toddler locked herself in baby brother’s room, and was refusing to unlock door and/or telling us she couldn’t do it for a solid 15 minutes. It’s the only bedroom door that can’t be unlocked with a small screwdriver and simple pop. I had never even noticed...
We tried telling her exactly what she needed to do to get out (but of course she knew...she had turned the lock herself). Told her if she came out she could do yoga. A host of other nice things. Then, in desperation, we told her we’d have to break down the door or call the fire department to get her out if she couldn’t do it. Click. Door unlocked.
I relay the experience to the Up To Speed team. The ever-resourceful Chris Schuster suggests I need a set of spare emergency keys for interior bedroom/bathroom doors, complete with link to purchase. Consider those ordered.
This week, I’ve never been more proud to be part of Verizon. From leaders who didn’t shy away from tough topics about race and social injustice and let their emotions come through, to employees who were willing to step up and share their stories and experiences, it’s been an incredibly impactful week.
I’ve mentioned this several times before, but we generally watch Up To Speed together over lunch as a family, and this week was no exception. (As of last weekend, “Back to you” is now part of my daughter’s vocabulary).
During Tuesday’s episode, Krista Bourne, who leads Sales and Operations for the Consumer Group, talked about “the talk” she has had and continues to have with her two, now near-adult, kids. “You need to live to tell your story.”
As a mom, my reaction was emotional and visible. I cried at the kitchen table.
While my kids are still so small and these days, rarely leave my sight, this isn’t a conversation that any parent should have to have with their child. Knowing how we get to that place, and where to even begin, is hard. The conversations are difficult, and uncomfortable.
The Communications team put together a toolkit to get the conversation started. Check it out.
And, stay tuned to Up To Speed next week, Krista will be back for a conversation with her own daughter. Maybe your family could join you to watch over lunch. PB&J optional.