Over the past 4 ½ years many people have said to me “You work with your spouse?!? I could never do that!” And my humorous reply has always been, “What makes it work is that Reese works from home, and I go to the office every day!” But all of that obviously changed six weeks ago when we shut down the PFI Advisors’ offices, sending Jay and Sandra to their respective homes while Reese, Luke, and I were confined to our house for the foreseeable future. Would the three of us survive?
Reese embraced the idea of homeschooling immediately. After two years of managing our daughter’s in-home medical care — juggling nurses, therapists, doctors’ appointments, hospitals, and of course frequent emergency room visits, homeschooling a healthy and hilarious 6-year old was a welcomed challenge. She jumped on her computer and designed a school schedule that would mimic Luke’s “normal” school day. “If I work from 4am to 7am, I can get a good chunk of PFI work done before he wakes up every day,” she concluded as she examined her spreadsheet. She wanted to give Luke her undivided attention from 7am to 2:30pm every day and allow me to focus on conference calls and client work from my new makeshift desk on a Home Depot folding table in our master bedroom.
We fell into a pretty good routine for the first few weeks. Reese and I both worked early in the morning, her from her permanent home office and me from the dining room table. Once Luke woke up, I’d head upstairs, and Luke would tackle some of his early morning homework from the coffee table in the family room. Following breakfast, he and Reese (and sometimes the cat) headed to the dining room table for their more serious schoolwork. I’d come downstairs for lunch around 11:30, and then the three of us would go for a mid-day walk around the neighborhood.
Just as we were finding our groove between work, school, online grocery shopping/delivery, cooking meals, and checking in on family and friends, two outside forces threw our “new normal” into a tailspin: Luke’s spring break, and the PPP loan program. Up until spring break, we (well, mostly Reese) had done a tremendous job of limiting Luke’s screen time and making sure he was productive each day. With no coursework to keep him busy, all bets were off for the week of spring break. As our COO/CFO, it fell upon Reese to gather the payroll and other financial information needed to apply for the PPP program (considering the majority of our revenue is project-based, and the fact that most RIAs cut discretionary spending — which includes consulting work — during market pullbacks, we felt it prudent to apply for the loan). On Friday April 3rd, when banks began accepting applications, Reese was at her desk, coffee in hand, at 3am. By 8pm that night, both Luke and I had learned some new colorful language as Reese pulled her hair out trying to navigate the ever-changing loan requirements. She basically didn’t sleep for the next two weeks, including Easter Sunday when she spent several hours on the phone with multiple bankers trying to complete our application, as well as cook Easter dinner. Miraculously, our loan was funded on April 18th (the only other time I saw Reese so excited was when Costco confirmed our order for 30 rolls of toilet paper!).
With the spring break and PPP loan fire drills behind us, it took another week or so for us to find our stride again. We’ve figured out a nice routine of all three of us rotating throughout the house, from desk to desk, computer to computer, and station to station each day, in an attempt to keep us from going stir crazy while confined to the house. We’re approaching seven full weeks at home, with at least another four until the end of May here in Los Angeles (Luke is out of school through at least June 10th…we’re hoping his summer program takes place, but that is still very much in the air).
Everything I’ve described is no different than what other parents and business owners are struggling with across the country. I’m definitely not asking for sympathy from anyone. In all honesty, I think the fact that Reese and I own our business and professionally work together has made things much easier for us, as opposed to parents who are being pulled in different directions by their bosses. I have no idea how parents of multiple children — many of which are at different schools — who are working two distinct and different jobs, are surviving this. My heart goes out to each and every one of you, and I graciously tip my cap to you!
Hang in there, everyone. Do the best you can every day and try not to sweat the small stuff. As long as the kids are entertaining themselves and not burning the house down, consider it a moral victory.
And definitely don’t cry over spilled milk!