Day 11 – Work From Home: Today Went By Really Fast

Career, Lifestyle, Productivity

I don’t know why but today went by incredibly fast. I have heard from some that their days are slow but that hasn’t been the case for me. What about you all working from home? Have your days been a blur? Or a slow drain?

I finally got hooked on posting on Instagram. I figured that there will be a time again where I’ll be at the office all day again and away from the girls so I am posting a ton of photos and posts there. To my discovery, Instagram is very efficient blogging. Plus it’s a happy escape.

My routine has gotten better. One challenge is girls not listening when they need to. Who can blame them? Home is to relax & chill. Don’t get me wrong. They’ve been so good and it’s fun being close to them. Not fun to do my work on my tiny laptop. Sometimes the server is slow. Hate that.

Anyhow. Here was schedule for today

6:30 – wake up shower dress, log in and work.

8:00 – girls wake up. Last night we were not good at putting them to bed on time. The morning was a bit challenging. Usually they cry and fuss a lot when they wake up for the day but later get over it once they eat breakfast.

9:00 – we went to the school to pick up breakfast, we were late so we turned around and head back home.

9:30 – Vivi begins working on her ST math and Lexia

11:30 – we head to the school to pick up lunch This time, we had to wait in our cars. I still had to park my car, walk over to drop off Vivi’s assignments and pick the new ones for the week. We got to see her kindergarten teacher from a safe social distance away. She is GREAT. I miss her and very glad she organized each daily assignment.

12:00 – lunch! Girls had cheeseburger, baked beans, pear, juice & chocolate milk.

12:30 – I send the girls outside to play for 90 minutes. They were so happy.

2:00 – I told them it was naptime. Did they stay in bed? Nope. But they did quiet time.

3:00 – Here I told Vivi it was time to do schoolwork. Plus the homework for today. She did it! Work was getting easier to wrap up so I could spend more time helping her. Tori also did an activity as well.

5:00 – done for the day with work. When I’m driving or feeding girls, that’s when I’m not on the laptop working.

5:30 – virtual workout with my personal trainer. In person the workouts are 2x a week for 30 minutes but he thinks to maintain same momentum and results, virtual workouts need to be 3x a week. Same price per week though.

6:00 – begin tidying up living room & kitchen

6:30 – Dave’s home!

7:00 – feed girls. After that they wanted to watch a movie.

8:30 – girls in bed. Made myself some corn to eat.

9-10:00 – honestly don’t know where the time went. I showered and it’s 10:05. I’m ready for bed. Goodnight.

Day 8 – Work from Home With Kids At Home, Oral Surgery of Mesiodens

Family, Lifestyle, Money

(Reader’s note: I count by business days & don’t count my weekends, so Day 8 is Wednesday March 25, 2020. I’ve been WFH since Monday 3/16/2020)

Before going to bed yesterday night:

“Mom? What are burdens?”

“Burdens are problems you carry on your shoulders”

Yesterday morning after feeding my girls their breakfast, I went to my bedroom, closed the door and called my mom to vent and cry for 5-10 minutes. I was in fear in how this illness is serious enough to shut everything down, including school. I hadn’t taken the girls to daycare since the 16th but yesterday, the daycare announced they would be closing this Friday, March 27th. I was still getting over the shock that school would be closed until May 1st. Talking to my mom helped.

Vivian had an oral surgery scheduled for today that we made in January 2020. She had a mesiodens that needed to be extracted because it was impacting her permanent front tooth from growing in. No idea back then how COVID-19 could possibly affect her procedure. A week out from surgery, it was just waiting to see what changed day to day until Monday. Would the office would be shut down?

The office called me on Monday; I could proceed as scheduled; they would submit an appeal to the surgical board explaining the extraction must be done Wednesday given her age & possible problems if it got delayed…or I could move it to end of May. May??? I’m working, yet I have no idea where I’d be with my job by then. The amount of layoffs across all industries has been insane and heartbreaking. Get this extra tooth out while we still have dental insurance! The procedure was $375. Without insurance it would have been $1600.

One of the reasons for the long wait between January consult and March procedure is that the oral surgeon works in conjunction with a pediatric anesthesiologist when they are dealing with very young patients for extractions. The pediatric anesthesiologists go to several oral surgery offices in the area so the soonest the anesthesiologist could come to this office was today. It required removal of her front baby tooth, then extracting the mesiodens. Vivi also had a wiggly bottom tooth and to my surprise she wanted it removed too.

The procedure went well, thank goodness. For a bit she thought she was ugly not because she had no front teeth but because she could see the stitches and her gums were a bit purple. The rest of day we let her have it easy and let her watch iPad non-stop. Super adorable with her toothless grin. She’s very excited to turn in 3 teeth to the Tooth Fairy.

Day 3 Work From Home – Earthquake!!!

Career, Lifestyle, Productivity
Planning can go out the window when in a panic.

Got up my usual time: 6am and logged in at 6:30am.

Here Dave & I have different accounts of our experiences a little after 7am. I swear he was sitting across from me on the couch while I was working & he was about to leave for work. He said he was not there in living room, instead he saw me run down the hall straight to girls room.

Dave’s first reaction was that an airplane was flying too low. I knew what it was because I had experienced an earthquake as a child in 1994 (Northridge CA). It was deja vu. Same thing, early in morning, kids asleep in room when it happened. This time I was the parent running to wake up and grab my kids. For comparison, the one in Cali was longer and much stronger at 6.7. This one didn’t feel as bad. It was strong and glad it was short. The earthquake registered at 5.7. The aftershocks, especially the one at 1:15pm was terrifying, at 4.6!

Vivi said it felt like an elephant running inside our house. As a child, I could describe it as some muscular strong man right below our house and shaking it.

Anyhow, this event really “shook” my routine. Mentally draining, especially the aftershocks. Upon reflection, I realized how badly natural disasters can make your routine and plans fall apart. Everything had to close, some households were without power, and things were delayed with work. Some people practice earthquake drills 6x a year, and in the moment, run to the wrong area of the house. I stayed logged on at work through 5pm. On emergency preparedness and food storage front, I need to plan better. We have everything but haven’t taken time to inventory and teach kids what to do in a natural disaster or emergency.

We were lucky that no one was hurt, nothing structurally was damaged around our home, and nothing fell or broke! We had just bought a 75″ TV and lucky that didn’t break and also lucky we paid for a warranty!

Anyhow, kids ate at home because school lunch had to be cancelled so that school could be assessed for damage. Girls weren’t in daycare but parents of 2 year olds and younger had to come get their kids. Because of the aftershocks, the daycare closed shortly after for the day.

COVID-19 and school closure was a blessing in disguise. I am so grateful the earthquake happened when we were all home. It would have been so terrifying if it happened during the day when I would be at the office and girls at school or daycare. I needed my kids next to me, and I knew that children want their parents right by them, as I did as a child after an experience so scary. My kids are sleeping in our room tonight. I did that too as a kid after the Northridge earthquake.

Tomorrow and Friday are PTO days for me, really need that after today.

How do you plan for a natural disaster?

Planning Your Life During a Pandemic

Career, Family, Organization, Productivity

Pandemic or not, many interruptions and demands will arise and you have to be able to reset priorities when change happens.

Plans are still good to have because it allows you to remain focused on the most important things and know where to reset a few things around. If you’re not able to revise as interruptions come about then your planning will not be effective. Planning allows you to prevent things from slipping even when big changes happen.

Many interruptions will arise anyway, you have to review and reset plans as changes occur.

The biggest change in my plans as well as for everyone else affected by COVID-19 is staying home during times I did not anticipate to be home. My weekend is starting to look different because ballet is cancelled as well as church meetings. Starting next Monday, my schedule and routine will be different too.

My Pandemic Planning

(1) Daycare. Daycare will remain open. My kids do not have a set routine at home between 8-6pm M-F so my plan is to bring them to daycare where they do have a routine. I won’t bring kids to daycare if they’re sick though.

(2) Kids’ school. So much conflicting information on the news about school closures. I went and reviewed school district website about their plan. Preschool is cancelled but kindergarten and above is not closed, only dismissed. School will move to online distance learning format. I will find out next week about checking out a Chromebook from the school and then decide whether my oldest should be in daycare during the school hour. My main priority is ensuring my kindergartener can get her schoolwork done with minimal interruption.

(3) Work. After figuring the plans with school and daycare, I was able to relax about work. Work updates related to COVID-19 changed by the hour this week. By end of day Thursday, they asked us to work from home at least through end of March. I was really glad I tackled some big items before switching to work from home (thanks to planning ahead!!!). Sometimes it is quicker to have two monitors at the office instead of one little laptop at home to work on spreadsheets. Remember to get the big rocks outta the way first whether the routine is eventful or not.

Most important area of focus is morning routine* during weekdays. I am planning to get up at the normal time and get girls to daycare like I would pre-pandemic. There will be discretionary time because the commute will be much shorter and not need to dress as if I’m going to the office.

Looking forward to temporary evening routine*. I should be able to get the kids earlier back home than I would normally, between 4:30-5pm instead of 5:30-6pm. Hoping I can get them to bed early! Also want to plan at least one weeknight meal early next week.

That’s what I have so far! What plans you got now with everything closing and cancelling?

*Note on morning & evening routines: they are 2 hour crucial time blocks between the hours of 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm Mondays through Fridays. More on that in another post.

Finding The Perfect Planner

Lifestyle, Organization, Productivity

Digital vs Paper?

Digital planning didn’t work for me.

It bugged me too much to bounce from the task app, the notes app, and the calendar app on my phone and tablet. It’s easier for me to turn to a sheet on my planner and see the date, task list, and notes all on one page. Also it is harder to ignore handwritten tasks than it is to ignore notifications on your phone or Outlook. Digital definitely has benefits but paper is here to stay.

Paper Planners

If you go paper based, any planner/organizer that fits your needs will do. It is important to choose one that is

  1. the right size for your needs, and
  2. fits your thinking processes so that you’ll use it

All of us lead different lives, so that’s why there are zillions of planners out there. You may have to try a few before you find the right planner that’s right for you.

Options for Trying Out New Planners

Target is a good option to test planners. They are not expensive and they have a lot of pretty and/or functional ones. The other option is printing out templates of the planner you are thinking of using. You can also try drawing out a template in a bullet journal or notebook.

If you never use planners before, it’s best to start inexpensive to see how your thinking process meshes with the planner layout. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on a planner that does not work well for you and not use.

The Right Planner

The right planner, when you open it has to delight you. It has to inspire you because without that, it’s not going to keep you being productive. It should make your life easier and it should make you happy. If it’s not working out or it’s frustrating you, then it’s okay to try another planner, or go back to digital.

Also as your life changes and as your kids grow, your schedule changes, and therefore your planning changes.

It’s always exciting to start a new planner, so give it a shot, and continue planning.

What planner do you use? If in market for planner what have you seen and liked so far?

The Real Cleaning Schedule for Working Moms

Career, Lifestyle, Organization

Forget about it! 

My house is not clean everyday.  Work gets busy and other priorities take precedence.  No one’s coming over, cleaning can wait!

Your home should be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.

When do I clean? Certainly when people are coming over to visit. Once I know I’m expecting visitors, I schedule that on my calendar.  During the week I can plan ahead of when I need to get in gear for cleaning my house before people come over.  No one needs to see a dirty house, and sometimes, visitors can wait too.

The Real Basics of Time Management for Busy Moms

Career, Lifestyle, Productivity, YouTube

I think a lot of moms think that because life with kids is so hectic, nobody can expect them to be on a timeline. Effective time management (“Planning”) is extra important when you’re this busy with kids.

Planning is not about using a specific planner (although a planner with daily, weekly, and monthly layouts can do a lot). Planning is about learning to use one calendar only and make it into one focused tool. You do not need a separate calendar for school, another one for work, kids etc. Planning systems like the block schedule, or week at a glance with half hour increments will not be as effective until you know what your month looks like first.

My goal with planning is to make sure that upcoming events I’m trying to fit in doesn’t cause big conflict with my full time job, children’s school schedule, or vacation I already planned for.

If you do not already have a planner with 12 month layout, print out 12 sheets of the monthly calendar from January-December. You can search monthly calendars online or search for a calendar template in Excel. Make selection, then print. Then grab a pen!

How I Plan My Month to Month

What goes on in my planner!

I begin writing things down for month to month for the entire year of 2020 plus the first 3 months in 2021.

I do all of this in the exact order:

  • Work Schedule – anything in the month where I know I must be at the office and days where I should not miss work, arrive later, or leave early. In my case, it’s month-end close! On month end, I can be at the office from 8:30am-9pm. For February 2020, it was Feb 3rd through 7th, labeled as “D1-D5” on my calendar. I do this for the whole 12 months, because business days can land on a different day of the week each month.
  • Bank Holidays – any holiday where your company is closed or little activity going on at work. I like knowing bank holidays for my job because when the Federal Reserve Banks are closed, all other banks, including online banks I work at don’t have daily work to prepare and review. I definitely do plan taking those days off. I prioritize that time to be with my kids. My kids need a break too from school & daycare to be with me at home.
  • Kids School Schedule – most school districts do have their calendars published online for the current school year and upcoming school year. Write ALL those dates down for the next 12-14 months.

Once I have those 3 things hashed out for the whole year, it’s really easy to plan everything else that comes up! Dental appointments, pediatrician, school carnival, parent teacher, jury duty, church, Airbnb hosting etc.

I encourage everyone to give this a try, let me know how this works for you!

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