It’s an understatement to say that COVID-19 has merely been a business disruptor. The way we work, live, interact with others, and generally conduct our lives has completely changed – overnight and with little warning (and certainly with no conscious or realistic understanding of what was really about to transpire). My two worlds were on a collision course from which there was no escape!
I’m a mother of four kids and a small zoo (we seriously have A LOT of pets). Now in our third week of quarantine, my professional responsibilities and family duties are completely intertwined. Between hours of conference calls, client negotiations, and crisis management, I’m also homeschooling three girls in various grades – all while maintaining a far more crowded home and using Facetime to check on my oldest, already living on his own. So, to say that my days have become merely chaotic would be yet another understatement.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, I rarely worked from home. And, when I did, I had a quiet, dedicated office -- a space that was mine, and mine alone. I used to go out of my way to minimize background noise, making sure the dogs couldn’t be heard barking, and that the kids were warned about interrupting me during working hours. Oh, how I took those quiet, peaceful days for granted (sigh). And, my how much has changed in such a short period of time.
Fast-forward to today. We’re three weeks into our confinement, and my former office oasis has been forcibly claimed by my children, invoking “distance learning” as their justification - a mutiny of epic proportion! So, now I work from my dining room, in the center of the house. Privacy and separation are but a memory, and chaos churns freely around me. My team regularly sees my kids, my husband, all the pets, and my dining room – along with my personal struggles and life in yoga pants. We’ve gotten to know one another on a whole new level. And, like each of them, keeping everything together is challenging for me, too. But we know that we’re all in this together, doing the best we can despite these extraordinary circumstances.
In fact, I had a video call with Daniel Julien & the TP Executive Committee just a few hours ago. What was I doing during this call? Welp, I was braiding my youngest daughter’s hair. And yet, with the reality of our new circumstances, I still turned on my video and finished her braid while we carried on with our meeting. Some might wonder why I didn’t run to a quiet corner before answering, to preserve that more professional image we used to deem a standard. In fact, a mere month ago, I would have done just that (well maybe not ). But now is now, and we’re all seeing life a little differently.
Everything has changed, and in an instant. But it’s somewhat refreshing that this “new normal” is accompanied by feelings of trust, patience and understanding. We’re able to see one another in our more human and raw form. As people. With families. And real lives outside of the office. Because these are the things that truly define who we are as human beings anyway.
So, I encourage everyone to hang in there, and try – just try – to see and embrace some of the humor of our newfound reality. While none of this may be easy, there’s also never a dull moment. We’re learning that we’re capable of far more than we ever thought possible. As professional women, we’ve always had the capacity to multitask and adapt to new situations. It’s how we’re wired. We are survivors. So, just take it one breakfast/meeting/hour/call/dinner at a time, and we will emerge stronger than ever. We got this!