International Product Marketing Manager, Hanny Y. talks about celebrating birthdays a little differently this year.
Since the two of us have been both working from home, my husband, Sean, and I have been trying our best to lead an effective routine for the past 3 months.
I have two young kids, a Terrible-Three stage boy, and a baby girl under one. At the moment the lockdown was announced, our biggest goal was to let Jason feel accompanied by mommy or daddy without ANY screen time during the weekday, while Josie can still keep up with her schedule without being disrupted by her brother. It sounds impossible, especially since Josie still needs a lot of attention, she just started to crawl and stand; also I am still breastfeeding.
We came up with a system of 1.5-hour shifts. The first 30 minutes either I or my husband will play with Jason, and then encourage Jason to play by himself in the second 30 minutes, and the last 30 minutes, the on-call person comes back and plays with him again, which means the other parent would have the whole 1.5 hours to focus on work. We even got a kid shoulder carrier to amuse Josie while working or doing chores.
After these 3 months, My husband and I love this quote very much: “Behind every successful conference call is someone’s spouse playing water guns with a child in the backyard (or any activities you can think of!).”
We are exhausted, however, there’s a lot of rewards too. Having this system after a couple of weeks, Jason became more and more independent and even became excited to plan what to do with us. Another unexpected bonus is that to make this system work, it requires a lot of communication, not only between parents and children, but also between spouses. Sean and I are both familiar with each other’s schedule, and the activities we have planned with Jason during the session, and how to make house chores more efficient. We spent more time exchanging our thoughts and have formed a better communication habit. We used this time to set up a weekly goal to improve our daily life.
Jason and Josie both had their 3-year-old and 1-year-old birthdays during the lockdown. It was a very special experience. On Jason’s birthday, I prepared small surprises for him to let him feel less lonely since we couldn’t throw a party. He woke up with a room of balloons, cookies, and cakes he can share with our neighbors, and surprising Zoom calls from family and friends all over the world. Josie was relatively easy, we did a cake smash on our balcony and she enjoyed it. 🙂
We know that our family has been one of the lucky ones. No one in our immediate families has contracted the illness. My husband and I are both employed at companies that have been relatively understanding of parents’ special circumstances with kids at home. But even knowing that, the last 3 months have required us to adapt as parents, employees, and members of our community. Our hope is that in the end, we can all take something positive away from this experience, and remember that the vicissitudes of life can often lead to unexpected discoveries in ourselves.