Our sudden collective plunge into working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, often while caring for children who are also home, has been ongoing for three months now at UFV.
In honour of Father’s Day, we thought we’d check in with an employee who’s also a father. But then we decided it would be interesting to check in with a family where both parents are UFV staff working from home. Daniel and Elise Goertz were happy to cooperate and share what it’s been like.
Daniel is the Admissions Coordinator in the Office of the Registrar, and Elise is the Internship and Practicum Coordinator for theCollege of Arts. They are the parents to Kenley, who turns 8 in a few weeks, and Isla, who is 5.
How have you worked out balancing attention to your kids, home schooling, chores, and work duties over the past few months?
It has been a challenge to say the least, but our juggling skills have vastly improved as time goes on. We are also very fortunate to have both sets of parents living within a few kilometres, so we can’t understate how much we appreciate their support in all this. We have done our best to be intentional about scheduling school and work time and providing as much structure for the girls as possible. Elise creates a daily schedule for the kids (and me!) and we do our best to stick to it. Sometimes I have to start my day earlier and finish it later than I was used to pre-pandemic, but I am thankful to have a job that keeps me busy in times like this while many others have been out of work.
My kids are still young and need quite a bit of support and attention so when I am with them my attention is divided. As someone who loves their job, and likes to be engaged in their work, I really found this challenging at first! I did not know how we would get through months and months of working at home with two children, but we have done it!
Honestly, it does seem like a balancing act most days, but life always is. We have adapted to this new normal and been creative with our time and how we manage our schedules. Our days are divided between work, breakfast, clean-up, online meetings, homeschooling, laundry, emails, cooking, parenting, walks, phone calls, problem solving, breaking up fights, meal planning, reporting, grocery shopping, data entry, zoom calls, crafts, gardening and so much more. On the home front, Daniel makes most of the meals and I handle most of the cleaning. We are blessed to live near both sets of our parents and they have provided a lot of support with both childcare and homeschool support. This means that I have had un-interrupted work time, something that I know a lot of parents are not getting.
What have been some of the biggest challenges?
There have been more than a few occasions where Elise and I have had virtual meetings at the same time. Our kids are fantastic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their moments. Isla in particular likes to challenge her big sister every once in a while, so suffice it to say our coworkers have probably heard a few great exchanges between them in the middle of our meetings. Emotionally, our kids have handled this all very well. We aren’t sheltering them and have had open, honest discussions about what is going on in the world around them. As a dad it is challenging to navigate your kids through something you yourself have never experienced – I feel the weight of that but am amazed by their resilience and positivity.
I am a success-driven person. The biggest challenge has been feeling like I am not able to be completely successful in any of my given roles, because my time and attention is completely divided. I want to engage with my children and be there for them when they need me. I also want to be an exceptional employee and colleague. I also want a clean house! I have had to stop, adjust my expectations, and accept help. The childcare that we have received from our parents has been the biggest help. This has allowed us to return to some normalcy, and it has given our children the chance to get out of the house and have a more normal schedule.
What have been some of the benefits to your family that have emerged during this period of intense family time?
I keep reminding myself that my kids are only going to be young once, so this extra time I get with them is this is a great opportunity to invest in them and get to know them better. I don’t think they will ever forget this time, so we are doing our best to make the most of what is a very challenging time in the world. We have spent lots of time hiking, biking, and playing in the yard.
We have really enjoyed getting outside together! We used to be busier in the evenings and on the weekends, but now we are getting active as a family every day because there is truly nothing else to do! We have been hiking, exploring, biking, and/or walking every day. I really feel that our new daily exercise routine has been helping everyone in our family stay calm and healthy.
Have you started any new routines or fun activities?
Yes! After a couple years of taking the girls to Cascades games, Kenley has decided she wants to play basketball at UFV. I bought a hoop and we have been playing a ton in the driveway. If she inherits her mom’s height she may have a chance. We finally got Isla riding a two-wheeler so Elise and the girls have been riding bikes a lot, and we are getting out for walks and hikes daily.
Other than getting outside and exercising every day, we have started eating lots of kettle corn, cheese popcorn and popsicles! Life is all about balance, right? Our girls have also discovered the Great Canadian baking show (which they love!) and we now watch it together as a family.
Have you grown as a father/mother? If so, how?
I hope so! I am learning to be more patient and present. This time spent investing in my daughters and getting to know them better will be hugely impactful for me (and hopefully them) down the road.
I have learned to slow down and be more present. I have learned that life does not need to be full of travel, appointments, parties, and extracurricular actives to be truly full.
Happy Father’s Day to Daniel! He will be spending it on a road trip with his father and grandfather to see an ailing family member in Smithers, so his own family will postpone their celebrations until he’s back home.