We Can’t All Recharge in Isolation…

Here’s to Those Working Harder Than Before

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic left most of us isolated in our homes, I’ve seen a lot of content about using the time to rest, recharge, and practice self care.  “You don’t have to be productive,” they say.  There’s lots of talk of free time, meditation, and binge watching, and the tasks we’ve all been absolved from include working out, purging our closets, and reading.

Well, that’s great, and more power to those that have the option to kick up their feet, but a lot of us don’t.  Essential workers are risking their lives, often working more hours than before, and coming home with barely enough time and energy to accomplish the absolute essentials like showering and taking care of their families.  Teachers are poring over lesson plans and unfamiliar technology, trying their hardest to keep students from falling behind.  Small business owners are trying everything they can think of to keep their businesses afloat while their doors are shut.  Parents are home with their kids 24/7, and many of them are playing homeschool teachers while trying to work a full-time job remotely.

So, here’s to them.  Here’s to the nurse who would love to get in a workout but she’s just too damn tired after her 12 hour shift.  Here’s to the teacher who spent hours putting together a quiz game and now Zoom is down, so he won’t have time to make lunch, nevermind check out a new TV show.  Here’s to the store owner making round the clock deliveries by himself just to keep the bills paid, who would give anything just to prepare a home cooked meal for his family.  Here’s to the couple struggling to split parenting duties while they both work from home, the nonessential worker picking up odd jobs to keep food on the table, and the single parent who has spent zero minutes away from their children since March. I’m sure they could all use a little time for quiet reflection.

Whether you’re a front line worker or a stay at home parent, I hope you find comfort in knowing you’re not alone and this is only temporary.  And, to the point I’m addressing here, do not feel like you need to do everything at 100%.  Just do your best, and ask for help if you need it. I think you’d be surprised at how many friends and relatives would be more than happy to grab your groceries when they do their own shopping, or entertain your kids on FaceTime for five minutes so you can sit down with a hot cup of coffee, or even offer some sage advice for sustaining your business.

On the other hand, if you do have a lot of free time, consider using a bit of it to do some good.  Reach out to those that might need a little extra help, or even just a little cheering up, and do what you can.  Things will start returning to [relative] normalcy soon and the more kindness we show each other during this difficult time, the stronger we will find our collective selves in the end.

Are you struggling to find a moment of peace or up to your eyeballs in me time?  Have you done anything in particular to offer help or spread joy?  Let me know in the comments.  As for me, my home is overrun by feral toddlers at least sixteen hours a day, so R&R is definitely not an option, but I’m fortunate enough to have a flexible work schedule and a husband who can work from home.  To do my part, I’ve decided to offer free marketing advice to anyone in need during this time.  Just shoot me an email at hello@theguiltymomma.com


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Wash Your *#$%ing Hands

This piece wasn’t on my content calendar and I didn’t plan on returning from a blogging hiatus with it, but here we are.

I have long accused people of not washing their hands and long suspected that many of those that do have no concept of how to actually achieve a decent level of cleanliness.  Just ask my husband — I usually inquire at least twice a day whether he has washed his hands and I have been known to send him back to the sink when I don’t hear the water running long enough. He loves it (I’m kidding; he obviously hates it).

Now, with the coronavirus sweeping across the globe, there is messaging everywhere reminding people to do the unthinkable…wash their hands throughout the day for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, and it’s being treated like it’s a novel idea. I can’t believe we needed an epidemic to convince people to clean their damn hands, but if anything good comes out of it I hope it’s that people continue to wash their hands when this is all over.

When to Wash Your Hands

If you’re honestly wondering when you need to wash your hands, here are a few key times.

  • Before eating and/or preparing food
  • After touching raw meat
  • After using the bathroom
  • After changing a diaper
  • After touching animals
  • After coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose
  • After visiting a public place (the subway, a store, a museum, wherever)
  • Anytime they are visibly dirty
  • Not only when there is a disease epidemic

Personally I like to wash my hands anytime I come back into my house, and to be honest, I also hit the sink at the first opportune moment after shaking someone’s hand.  Sorry, but you just never know, and at times when there’s illness going around you should do the same. Use your judgment. If you think you should probably wash your hands then you definitely should.

It’s a shame this needs to be said, but men need to wash their hands after peeing.  Dollar Shave Club has a great article about why, so give it a read and I’ll skip going into detail about proximity to poop and contaminated door handles.

While we’re at it, please teach your kids to wash their hands, too. It will save us all a lot of household illness.

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

The biggest problem seems to be reluctance to spend the proper amount of time sudsing up.  I promise, you really do have the extra 20 seconds to spare. You’re going to waste a lot more than that if you get sick.

To put it simply, you wet your hands, lather up, scrub for 20 seconds, and rinse well.  Bonus points if you avoid touching the sink or door handle on your way out of a public restroom.

The CDC has a great little chart if you need a visual.

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What to Wash Your Hands With

Pretty much any soap will do when used properly.  If you’re eco-conscious there are plenty of eco-friendly options.  If you’re worried about killing the good bacteria off with antibacterial soap, there’s plenty that aren’t.  Scented, unscented, liquid, bar — go ahead and use what you like as long as it’s soap.

Just remember, hand sanitizer is not a substitute for soap.

Hand sanitizer is for when you can’t get to soap and water or if you want to be extra cautious and sanitize after washing your hands.  Everything that was on your hands is still there; you haven’t washed anything off, you’ve just killed certain germs. Fun fact: norovirus, C. diff, and some parasites are resistant to hand sanitizer, all of which mean you get treated to some diarrhea, among other often more serious things.

Let’s Wrap it Up and Hit the Sink

I know some of you do wash your hands.  I appreciate you, and the rest of the world does too even if some people don’t realize it.  Unfortunately you probably account for 90% of the people that will read this, so there’s that.

Whether or not you already wash properly, and whether you liked the article or are wondering why a marketing consultant is telling you to wash your hands (for the record it’s because when you don’t, my kids get sick and I don’t get a moment of peace), feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Seven Tips for Working at Home With Young Kids

How to Separate Business from Personal When You Work at Home

When I first became a mom I was completely consumed by it.  My every waking thought was of my son, and even though I was lucky enough to work for a company that allowed me to work remotely, I basically cried through the last two weeks of my maternity leave.  I couldn’t imagine having another priority outside of parenting.

Once I actually went back I found that it really wasn’t so bad…and then I had another baby and I had to figure it out all over again.  It can be tough to find the right balance, but for many of us, working from home feels much less daunting than having to commute to work and leave our kids every day.  I’ve learned a lot along the way, so without further adieu, here are some musts for working at home with your kids.

Take Advantage of Flexible Hours

One of the greatest benefits of working remotely is that it often does not require adherence to a strict schedule.  Make the most of the hours your kids are asleep or most content, and don’t focus too much on the usual 9-5. The lack of a commute frees up morning and evening time you otherwise wouldn’t have.  If you’re up before your kids, get some work done early in the morning. If they nap for two scheduled hours in the afternoon, schedule calls within that window when possible. If they get particularly rowdy later on, take them to the park and get back to work later on.

Have Trustworthy Childcare

I’m not saying you need a full-time nanny on staff, although it’s worth considering if you have a rigorous and inflexible job.  However, most of us that work from home will run into an issue at some point where there’s an important call during your kid’s lunchtime or you have to go to an in-person meeting.  You also still need to be able to get work done and meet your deadlines even if your kid is having one of those days. For those instances, it’s advantageous to have someone you trust that can step in and handle the childcare while you attend to your work responsibilities.  This is often a great job for friends and relatives if you have some that are willing and able!

Limit Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking at work is great, but toggling between work and kids, while sometimes necessary, tends to leave you half assing both.  Try to commit 100% to what you’re doing whenever possible. When the kids are occupied by someone else, grab your computer and get to work – they’ll let you know if they need you.  When you’re playing with your kids, walk away from the computer and put down the phone. Give both the attention they need.

Be Transparent With Your Partner

If you live with a spouse or partner, make sure they understand what you need in order to be successful.  If they’re not used to working from home they may not quite understand the blurred lines that come along with it.  On the other hand, if they also work from home it’s critical that you agree on how to share responsibilities. If your partner leaves for work, perhaps you ask him or her to take the kids out for a walk when they get home, or if they work at home also maybe you decide to split the day in half.  This probably looks different for every family and may change often, but regardless, communication and transparency are key.

Set Aside Time for Your Kids

If you’re anything like me, you’ll sometimes find yourself missing your kids while you’re working.  They’re also likely not to understand why you’re home but not available. You’ll all spend less time pining for each other if you set aside a little time to be with your kids.  I always try to spend lunchtime with my kids. I have to eat anyway, so we spend that time together and then I can get back to work.

Save Time for Yourself

At the end of the day it can feel like you haven’t had a moment to yourself…and that’s because you probably haven’t.  Once you’ve finally put the kids to bed and shut down your laptop for the night, take a little time for yourself. It’s important to recharge and maintain your mental health.  I tend to take about an hour at the end of each day to eat ice cream and mindlessly watch reruns on Netflix.

Working from home with young kids isn’t easy, but the benefits can make up for it in spades.  No commute, plus I can work in my PJs and see my kids whenever I want? Sign me up!

Photo by Nicole Honeywill / Sincerely Media