Just days before my 42nd birthday I received the dreaded call from HR and it was from that point onwards my life took a sharp turn. After receiving the news I had lost my job, a week later the government announced schools would be indefinitely shutdown and I was immediately swept into a new role of being a full-time stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher. Being a career driven professional who was accustomed to balancing long days at the office, squeezing in workouts before rushing home to be a ‘mom’ in the evenings, only to jump online later at night after the kids were down, this new role wasn’t ever on my radar. While I’ve always respected stay-at-home moms, I’ve spent the past 14 years building my career and honing my craft for it only to be swept from underneath my feet within a matter of moments and promptly catapulted into a new role that quite frankly, I didn’t think I was built for.
Like a swinging pendulum my emotions were all over the place as I started to navigate this new stage in my life. Like most people, much of my identity was intertwined with my career but with COVID-19 pressing pause on life, I had to strike a balance between my new current role while also staying focused on my next career move. To find that balance I started to incorporate a few small changes that have made a big impact on my life.
Find a new routine.
One of the first things I set out to do was implement a new routine in my family’s life. With workplaces shutdown and all four of us at home in our cozy downtown Toronto home, it was critical for the entire family to find a new daily rhythm. I promptly put a schedule into place, set a regular wake-up time, and carved out designated times for school work, exercise, free time and outdoor play. This routine not only kept my family sane but gave me an immediate sense of purpose and structure.
Even though I started to run my household like a workday, I continued to stay focused on my next career step. I invested in LinkedIn Premium, updated my profile and started taking online courses to stay relevant and sharp. Since COVID-19 has put a wrench in the traditional ways of networking, I stay engaged via social media, regularly posting and commenting on relevant topics and trends that position me as a professional leader and keeps my profile present on my network’s feed. With nearly 2 million Canadians and 16.3 million Americans out of work as of August 2020 according to Statistics Canada and Trading Economics respectively, there is no question that the already competitive job market will be fierce in months and years to come; which is why it’s paramount to always be dialed into current trends, tools, and best practices to sharpen your competitive edge and remain marketable for post-COVID life.
Living a healthy lifestyle has always been part of who I am but even more so now. I immediately put meditating and working out at the top of my new daily home-life routine. About a year ago I stumbled upon Dr. Jason Selk, an executive coach who trains professionals how to become more mentally tough to drive high-performance success. His daily 100-Second Mental Workout has been instrumental in keeping me centered and getting me into the right mindset for the day ahead.
Working out, specifically weight training, is something that I passionately enjoy but with more free time on my hands I decided to explore new types of training to complement my traditional methods and I now find myself obsessed with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). MrandMrsMuscle have become my go-to for a quick 10-15-minute HIIT warm up followed by weight training with Kyritchfit who posts daily routines and often has a 6-week challenge you can sign up for. I’ve never felt stronger or more healthy and an added bonus to working out at home is having my kids, who always knew I went to the gym to ‘get strong’, are now seeing me get stronger each day and sometimes join in (for a few exercises) as I sweat it out in our basement. I am confident that by them seeing me make fitness a priority in my life will build a strong and positive image in their minds that will lead them to live healthy and active lifestyles as they grow into adults.
Overall wellness is a combination of mind, body, and soul, and reading feeds my soul. I was an avid reader prior to having kids but admittedly that dropped off my priority list once I became a working (exhausted) mom. Now in COVID life my passion for reading has been invigorated and I’ve had the luxury of being able to read some amazing books recently. Some of the more stand out reads for me have been: It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, and Canadian author Bianca Marais’ Hum If You Don’t Know the Words.
Find the silver linings.
While it was a big hit to my ego to lose my job from a company I invested 14 years of my life into, I will not let it define me, so I make sure to appreciate the silver linings of my current situation. I recognize the incredible pressures working moms are undergoing to manage their careers, homeschooling, and let’s be honest, the bulk of the household duties, so I take solace in the fact that I’m not contending with those competing pressures and want to give a big shout out to all those hard working moms out there who are trying to balance it all. I’m grateful to have this time with my kids while they are still young and actually want to spend time with me. COVID life has allowed the world a much needed pause and now as we slowly return back to the ‘new normal’, we’ll look back on this time as a very unique and (hopefully) once and a lifetime experience.
It’s not lost on me that there are varying circumstances to losing a job and not everyone is afforded the time to stop and reset before making their next career move; but I hope whatever your circumstance, the path ahead leads you to something bigger and better. Personally, COVID life has changed my perspective and forced me to reassess my priorities. My next career move may not look like what I initially thought it would and much of that hinges on what the future holds in this pandemic, but for now, I’m finding great fulfillment in my new role.