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Opinion: What I learned working from home with a five-year-old

After six months, Sudbury.com new media reporter returns to the office, reflects on juggling mom life and working from home

This is my last week working from home. 

It's mind-blowing to think I've been working from home the past 168 days. That's 24 weeks, as in six months — half of a year! 

I will not miss working through the night in order to catch-up for the time I needed to be a mom, an educator and wife. It was a constant balancing act that cost me many, many grey hairs.

Prior to the pandemic, at the office I was able to concentrate on the task at hand and at 4:30 p.m. I took off the work hat (so to speak) and put on my mom and wife hat. As I headed home, I would think about what's for dinner and wondered what my son did at school. What kind of fun can we have before bedtime? 

Looking back, life seemed simpler compared to the unorganized, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants life we've been living the past six months. 

Working from home has been a definite learning curve for my family.

Don't get me wrong, I know how fortunate I am to have been able work from home and it created ample opportunity for my son and I to bond and create great memories. 

In the beginning of the pandemic, my then five-year-old son, Thomas, and I shared our adventures live on Sudbury.com's Facebook page. The video series was called "Tommy and his mommy" and many families tuned-in to get ideas on how to keep their kids entertained during the extended March Break. We cooked, explored outdoors, did crafts and made a lot of new friends along the way.

We had a lot of fun, but there were also some not-so-fun moments (and some were, unfortunately, captured on live video). 

Self-isolation meant we couldn't visit loved ones. No sleepovers with cousins. No play dates at the park or visits to local attractions. Being stuck at home with mom and dad is not great for an only child, especially when both your parents are busy with work. It was frustrating for us all.

There were temper tantrums (and I'm not just talking about my kid). There were tears, timeouts and apologies (again, made by all of us). 

But there were also moments of love, endless kisses and cuddles.

There were moments of awe and wonder when we realized how quickly our baby boy has grown. How outgoing and kind he is. How he easily makes friends wherever he goes. How he expresses his creativity through cardboard creations and LEGO.

We beam with pride at how independent he is. How he surprised me by emptying, filling and starting the dishwasher while I was preoccupied with work. How he did laundry without even being shown how. How he took interest in mom's job, tagged along on video assignments and learned how to operate the camera.

I wouldn't trade this time for anything. The past six months has certainly been a rollercoaster ride, but at least we were together.

We have made the decision to allow Thomas to return to school this fall. Is it the right decision? We can't be sure. Are we scared? Of course. But we trust that he will be in good hands. He needs his friends. He needs a proper education, one that I'm not able provide. He will adjust to this new normal and so will we.

I will return to the office and, hopefully, the simpler life when I was able to wear just one hat at a time.  

I admit the "new normal" is uncertain and that is causing some anxiety, but the only thing we can control is our own actions and how we react. 

No matter what happens in the coming weeks and months, we will take it one day at a time with the support of one another. 

Be kind. Be patient. We are all in this together.

Heather Green-Oliver is a new media reporter at Sudbury.com.


Heather Green-Oliver

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