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How do we divide child-care tasks while both working full-time from home?

By Steve and Bridget Patton

How do we divide child-care tasks while both working full-time from home?

Since we can’t ask either of our parents to watch the kids in these times, we are trying to navigate child care together while both working full-time at home. How do we divide tasks such as schooling, and basic child care duties, while both of us are feeling pressure from work?

Start with this all-purpose prayer embedded within every Mass: “Father, all-powerful and ever living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks ...” In other words, no matter what challenges life might throw your way, including the new disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, start by thanking God.

Expressing what you’re grateful for will help you not only find a practical solution to your immediate problem, but, more importantly, it will also help you grow closer to one another and to God. Where to begin?

Thank him that you are both healthy, that you both still have jobs, that you have children to care for (who are thereby helping you become better people), that you have a home, that you have the gifts of one another to depend upon and that you have your faith. Next, zero in on gratefulness for your jobs and for one another.

If you’re grateful to be employed, chances are your employers are also grateful to have you. So if you’re struggling with the work-at-home scene, be open and honest about it with your employers (while nevertheless being grateful to them). Could they possibly make some accommodations that would make it easier for you to coordinate your work days?

Next, be open and honest with one another about your respective gifts and limitations as child caregivers. And be ready to stretch, especially if in the past you have reflexively relied upon “traditional” gender roles. This is a new opportunity to creatively and generously demonstrate your willingness to suffer well for the sake of your family.

Nurturing gratefulness within your hearts, while also expressing it to your employers, your children, one another and God is much more than a mere program for optimistic living. It is a decision to be, and to live, in right order with God and with one another. We who love God can trust that no matter how the pandemic affects us — from a mere nuisance to more serious implications — it will, eventually, “work together for the good” (Rom 8:28), and for that we can and should thank him. In God’s kingdom, it is not the happiest who are the most grateful, but the most grateful who are the happiest.