In the support of working parents, flexible schedules, and the reality of life:
By Louisa Else, Tax Practice Leader
It seems like everywhere I look these days - every email blast I get or shared article I see - has this advice or that perfect daily routine to help you master working remotely. We certainly talk about it in staff meetings. Maybe I'm the only one, but as a working mom with two young kids at home, I just roll my eyes and keep it moving.
I've been working remotely, either part-time or full-time, since my daughter was born 6 years ago. In all that time, I've never had a lasting routine – one that stuck. We are constantly shifting as our lives shift. Wake up at 6am and drink your coffee, get in your workout, and start the day "right"?! Not back when the little boy who never slept was waking me up 4 times a night until he was over a year old! Get dressed in "real" clothes to help you get in the right frame of mind? But then I'm in jeans all day, and there's just no reason for that when comfortable, soft leggings are an option.
As I've been watching so many of my colleagues shift to remote work these past few months - by force, not by choice - it's gotten me thinking again about all the ways that parents can juggle our lives and be not only amazing mothers and fathers, but also show our kids great examples of working hard and having careers we enjoy at the same time.
This new recurring newsletter post is to share our tips and tricks (that I promise we’ve actually tested), stories that will make you laugh, and mostly (hopefully) show all our working moms and dads out there that they are not alone and we are all navigating this crazy working parent adventure together.
At least in my house, a typical day is no day. We may get close to a routine, but there is always something that will come up and throw things for a loop. Some days I really am up at 6am, working by 8am, and shutting it down at 5pm. Other days I have 3 tickle fights, 2 stubbed toes to kiss better, and one spilled yogurt to clean up, and I'm wrapping up client deadlines after bedtime. I have to be flexible enough to make both those extremes work and slide into my next day.
Most days are smooth (enough) sailing, but there are still many stories I could tell. My first week at Fine Point, I was juggling training with kid duty while my husband was coaching, and my children (who were fully capable of occupying themselves peacefully for an hour), instead spent 25 minutes eating brown sugar and found the maple syrup. That is where the working part of “working from home” was to my advantage – Daddy did the clean-up later.
Early this summer, after weeks of COVID-19 quarantine and typical cold Wisconsin spring weather, I took as many calls outside as I could so my kids could run around and get fresh air. That all went great, until the morning my son's boot ended up on my garage roof. I had to haul out the ladder after my call ended so I could perform a daring rescue (as my 5 year old took pictures that I shared with our Fine Point slack channel).
I want to wrap up with some unsolicited advice that you should feel free to ignore:
- Learn to type one-handed (let's face it, with your non-dominant hand, because kids just know where the most awkward place to sit is)
- Bluetooth headphones. Bluetooth headphones.
- Practice giving grace. Give your kids grace. Give your colleagues grace. Most importantly, give yourself grace.
- Don't fall for the trap that working from home is "easier".
- Sometimes, just walk away from your computer and laugh at the crazy. It's all you can do.
What works for me isn't what works for our onboarding specialist, Diana, or our controller, Brad. By sharing our stories and our real-life, non-Instagram posed snapshots, I hope that we will encourage you to take what works, toss out what doesn’t, and create your fit.