The blurred boundary between work and home has not been easy on working parents in months since the start of the pandemic. Judith Pila, Account Manager at Capital Insurance, knows this all too well. She recently spoke with APOLLO Magazine to share her experience of working from home full-time while taking care of her two young kids — all while pregnant with her third child.
Pila describes the beginning of the pandemic when Canadians were put under strict quarantine restrictions: like many other working parents, she was rudely jolted from a routine of working comfortably out of her office, a focused and distraction-free environment, to working full-time from home with her energetic 5- and 2-year-old. During this transition, she struggled to maintain professional phone interactions with her clients, as there seemed hardly a moment without her kids making noise in the background or interrupting her. Her situation became more overwhelming when, a few weeks later, she found out she was having another baby.
“I had mixed feelings,” Pila recalls. “I was happy but I also thought, how am I going to manage the morning sickness, the hormonal changes, and basically all the issues that come with pregnancy along with work? It all felt too much to handle, until one morning when I woke up and looked at my 5-year-old: I thought about the night we brought her home. I remembered the sleepless nights, the crying, and how new and challenging everything was at the time — but I also remembered that that time was a phase, and it passed. This pandemic, despite how challenging it is now, will also pass.”
Needless to say, it was then that Pila decided to find ways to get through this — not just as a mom or as an insurance account manager, but as Judith. She began setting strict boundaries and routines for herself. She tried giving equal priority to her job as well as her kids, taking advantage of the times when they were watching television or asleep to complete her most important tasks. While she loved her work, working from home meant that stronger boundaries were needed between her professional and personal life, and those boundaries needed to be communicated to her kids.
“I try to follow my work hours. Millions have lost their jobs because of this pandemic, and so I am very appreciative of the opportunity my employer gave me to continue working from home,” Pila explains. “I just constantly told my kids that I had to work to make money to buy them toys, and that without work, Mommy can’t buy toys.” Eventually, understanding sank in — Shh, Mommy is working, she would overhear them admonishing each other. With their understanding of this boundary, Pila was then able to focus in on her work and complete as many tasks as possible before the end of her work day.
When Pila first began this new stay-at-home routine, there were many times when she lost patience and became frustrated. Shifting her perspective away from the things she couldn’t control about the situation helped her to gradually see that spending more time with her kids was an opportunity to understand them better. It was also an opportunity that taught her the importance of time management and establishing routines.
To other working parents who may have struggled with similar challenges during the pandemic, Pila’s advice to them is simple: take it one step at a time.
“I have learned that we can’t do everything all at once, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you feel like you are not being the parent you want to be. We are all in this together, and this is only a phase that will eventually pass.”
Plus, it’s just as important to not lose oneself during this time. To address this, Pila takes a number of steps to ensure her own well-being is taken care of along with her work and family. A few of these are taking walks, staying hydrated, and sharing her parenting duties with her husband. Since she is aware that rest is necessary for the wellbeing of herself and her unborn child, she and her husband try to take supervising shifts so that she can take time for herself when her husband is home.
“To the outside world, I try to be as Judith as Judith can be,” she says. “At the end of my work day when I can clock out as account manager, I am the mom my kids want me to be. I make sure to give everyone the full attention they deserve.”