Where Is All This “Extra Time” Everyone Keeps Talking About? (and more musings from the WFH frontlines)


Guys, I don’t know about you, but the internet seems to have missed its mark this past week. Where it usually knows me way too well (creepy Google ads parading Daydreamer tees and AGOLDE denim in my face at every turn, I’m looking at you), this week the peddled headlines just felt…off

25 Baking Recipes for Self-Quarantine and Self-Care.
10 Best Quarantine Date Ideas.
25 TV Shows We’re Binging Right Now.

Oh wait, that last one was us. Heh.

I’m sorry, friends — I love the intent, but…am I missing something? Where is all this extra time I am assumed to suddenly have on my hands in light of our new normal? When exactly, between Zoom calls and hosting birthday parties for teddy bears and shooting client work and building forts and joining good ol’ Harry as he tracks down the last.freaking.three.horcuxes — oh, and let’s not forget washing everyone’s hands 196 times a day and getting outside and prepping three square meals (and god knows how many snacks) and doing bedtime and convincing my Apple Watch that dancing to Stupid Love on repeat counts as movement…


Where, exactly, amidst all those seemingly superfluous activities am I to find the time to make laminated pastry and host an at-home paint night with my husband and finally, finally, finish Season 8 of the Walking Dead?

What am I doing wrong, guys?

To be clear: I’m not complaining about any of those aforementioned, uh, activities, let’s call them. They are, in fact, the nature of the beast that is Working From Home with a Four-Year-Old (and, I’ll sheepishly admit, the teddy bear birthday party was my idea) — but, as such, how am I the only one that feels like I have less time — far less time, even — than ever before?

And that’s with me putting in a seriously low amount of effort when it comes to developing a schedule or proactively coming up with tasks to keep Lana entertained. The intent of this rant (because, it’s going that direction a bit, huh?) isn’t to humblebrag about all the wholesome activities I’ve orchestrated to fill our waking hours. Conversely, without any help from me, I’m already finding those hours filled to the brim with all the bits of everything and nothing that I usually accomplish during the few hours a week that Lana is in school. And she’s not even in school school yet. The majority of people reading this have kids who are typically in school full-time. Kids who, in the wake of Sheltering in Place, have now been sent home with syllabi to adhere to and Zoom calls with teachers and quadratic equations that aren’t going to solve themselves. Hell, you probably have more than one kid! And here I am over here, in a household with two relatively attentive, communicative parents and one preschool-aged child wondering where in the hell did the time go?

I had a speedy text chat with some girlfriends tonight (while Chris handled bath time and I sort of half-assed a few sets of squats as the laundry tumbled for its last minute), and maybe, they reasoned, the solution lies in the problem: in an attempt not to overburden myself with Pinterest-worthy schedules (or even non-Pinterest-worthy schedules, a la Linzi), I’ve invited chaos into our lives. Without time dedicated specifically to my work, my husband’s work, and Lana’s activities, they’re all essentially at war with one another. Maybe our relatively simple system, which consists of Chris and me checking in with each other at night and blocking out a couple hours here or there where we’d prefer minimal interruption the following day, leaves too much to chance.

Or maybe the reality is that I’m not as freaking crazy as I feel. That we’re all just barely holding the wheels on. Responding to emails while the pasta boils over, and scowling at every homeschool activity that flits across our feeds (while at the same time guiltily bookmarking it for another time, because maybe the intent counts for…something). I can’t be the only one who feels both gloriously accomplished and completely demoralized when my head hits the pillow at night.

I want to be the mom with time to spare, now, more than ever.
I want to date my husband, binge the shows, make the pastry.

But I also want to accept that, in this moment, that’s just not my reality. 

I’m doing what I can, when I can — and probably sacrificing a little too much of myself in the process. And while I want to say “but that’s parenting, right?” — well, I’m not 100% convinced that’s the correct response, either. Whatever we’re doing, however we’re doing it, it’s not going to result in an afternoon spent perfecting croissants or finally graduating to sourdough. But, as the progressive parenting articles would say — it’s enough, guys.

It’s got to be.

Hang in there, mamas.

Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!


  1. Yes! I literally said last night “Am I missing something?” I don’t understand all this extra time and boredom people are taking about. Thanks for sharing. Best to you and your family!

    • Right!? I’m sure we’re all going to come out stronger — just hard to see it when we’re in the thick of it. And best to you, too!

  2. Yup. Exactly. Life is busier than ever (but not in a good way) and the stress is really high. I want to do all those things – but when?

  3. …everything you just wrote! but maybe we don’t have extra time and it’s *not* a bad thing? the extra time with my son has given me a sense of purpose to my days that personally i don’t think i’d have otherwise. i’m not sure…all i know is when do i get to binge a show? 🙂

    • Haha, I feel that, Jojo. I know we’ll look back on this time and it will seem so novel that we all got to spend these huge chunks of time together as a family — something I’m trying hard not to lose sight of. And I’m giving the show-bingeing my best attempt, I swear. In the late evening, after bedtime, while I proofread content or edit photos, we get it all queued up — and every night for the past two weeks, I’ve fallen asleep during the first episode. I’m TRYING to be a couch potato at every opportunity given, I swear, but I’m just too dang tired! ?

  4. I feel swamped! Like I’m drowning. I barely sit down. Life suddenly got really busy. I homeschool kids now, plus all they do is eat all day long, being home all the time means a much messier house and no more cleaning lady means I’m the one cleaning it….plus laundry! So I think that’s where my time is going. Will I manage to NOT read a single book for this entire quarantine??

    • Oh, not read a single book for the whole months of March and April? Challenge accepted! Finally, something I KNOW I can accomplish amidst all this! ?

  5. We had a book club via FaceTime the other night. I didn’t even start the book. I didn’t even shower. I’m working full time and so is my husband. Our girls are 4 and 8. I’m not homeschooling. But we are eating 3 meals a day that I somehow made and we are safe. My FaceTime book club became a mom chant for us all, much like your article…It IS enough.

    • I love this. Getting food on the table. Safe at home. Making it work. And Facetime. Where would we be without Facetime? Loads to be thankful for, for sure. Thanks, Jen.

  6. I told my 60-something parents this weekend that I feel busier now than when I was just going to work every day. I didn’t realize the house would get so much dirtier now that I have two kids running out to play in the backyard (which I am so thankful we have) and running back in for snacks All Day Long. I’m exhausted, and maybe just a little jealous that my childless friends have time to bake quarantine cakes and catch up on new TV.

    • Your childless quarantine friends are clearly the ones all these articles are targeting — and I’m more than a little jealous of them, too. ? The snack prep is REAL around here. ALL. DAY. LONG. Which, in turn, leads to me snacking, too (and verrrry little time for working out during daylight hours). Oy.

  7. Thank you! This is exactly how I feel! My neighbors were telling me how bored they are (they have a dog) and I am even more overwhelmed with my four kids! I am busier than ever with homeschooling, feeding everyone, cleaning and laundry. And just trying to make sure we are having fun and getting outside often! Thanks for making me feel like I am not the only one struggling in this “new normal.”

    • Definitely not the only one, Chrissy. It already feels better knowing we’re in this together. Not easier, ha, but I feel less like I’m spinning out in my own world. Thanks for commiserating!

  8. HAHAHAHA extra time?! I’ve got a 6 year old and a 9 year old, and a full-time job that (thankfully) lets me telework but still requires 8 hours a day, so I get to work full time AND homeschool AND run on the laundry/meals treadmill between the hours of 6:30am to 8:00pm. Then I spend a couple of hours finishing the work I didn’t get to between science experiments, art projects and breaking up fights, and before I pass out, I lesson plan. But bring on the Buzzfeed bread recipe listicles!

    • Hahahah, bring them on, indeed. What’s one more thing! What’s one more job title to add to our Shelter In Place CV! Ha. Sending you all the energy, friend.

  9. I read a meme somewhere along the lines, “And just like that, no one ever asked what a stay-at-home mom does all day ever again” I have a kinder and 3rd grader, this was my 1st year home with both kids in school because up until now, I was home with 1 or both kids for the last 9 years. Yes we could leave the house, but this feels very similar to being a new stay a home mom with young kids. Very thankful I don’t have another job outside the house to be responsible for … but all this cooking, man, it’s rough!

    • I just said something similar to my husband yesterday — “this feels like when you were on paternity leave, except instead of an infant we have a homeschooled 4-year-old.” It really does have that same sense of sleepwalking through some seriously unfamiliar territory. And yet now I look back on what was a clearly tumultuous time with a bit of a rosy tint (baby blues and all!), so I know that, as the saying goes, this, too, shall pass.

  10. All of this. I have a 4-year-old and an 8-month-old, and I work in a particularly hard-hit industry and my job is basically to keep the lights on, so I’ve been working 14+ hour days and trying to parent in snatches here and there. My husband is a saint for taking on the vast majority of parenting duties, but he’s a teacher and his school wants “more structure” starting this week. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THIS CAN POSSIBLY WORK?!? It’s all just so overwhelming. I’ve been hitting the retail therapy hard because I can kind of mindlessly add to my cart when I’m called in to conference calls, which feels pretty financially irresponsible but is bringing me a little bit of joy so IDK. Clicking through the TME links too 😉

    • Oy, already feeling spread thin and now you guys are being spread thinner. That is SO tough. Do your best — it’s all we can do. And, a HUGE genuine thanks for continuing to read and using our links when you do choose to shop — you’re truly supporting our livelihood in doing so, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone on the team. <3

  11. The people with extra time A. have no kids, and B. also have time to post about it on the internet. You’re not doing anything wrong, moms! I try to frame all the stuff online lately that doesn’t resonate at all as just people releasing a collective wail at how different everything is, and how shocking and sudden the change was for all of us. Love, a kid-free TME fan

    • So true — all of those articles that had me so bitter were aimed at helping us navigate this unprecedented time in one way or another, to lessen the blow of something that is more serious and, in all reality, scary than any of us would like to admit. Thanks for the insight and for reading along with us, friend.

  12. I was thinking about this exact thing getting ready today. What I concluded is that I outsource a lot that when we are sheltered in place, I no longer have access to. Lunch 5 days a week for four humans… cafeterias for all. Cleaning every other week… what they do in a couple of hours takes me 3x as long. Dinner… let’s be honest about how much takeout or eating out we’ve been doing… way more than I realized. Child care… 10 hours/week to cover us from after school to getting home from work. Like many other commenters, my job has gotten more intense and there is more work and I’m committing more hours to it. We all still have 24 hours in the day, they just are being used differently.

    • I mean — exactly, Ruth. When you break down the math, it makes sense that we’re all feeling this way. But it doesn’t make it easier. (And if you’re tied to a to-do list like me, at all, well — it gets awfullllllly long!) Hang in there!

  13. I totally agree. There is LESS time now, with kids “going to school” from home–the place where I normally do my job in peace! I mean, yes, they don’t have their sports and other activities, so I guess that’s more time, but other stuff is too crazy for it to translate into TRUE free time.

    • Yes, but in my experience, sometimes the driving was only part of my day I could count on to be truly peaceful — I kind of looked forward to the respite! ?

  14. I’m right there with you. I saw something online quoting Gwenyth Paltrow as saying this was a great time to write a book or learn a new language and expletives came out of my mouth. When am I supposed to write a damn book? I have 4 kids, one of whom has special needs. Three of them need direct help from me to get through schoolwork. My house is a disaster. People are eating constantly and I’m trying to manage all the tasks as well as keeping everyone’s mental health in good shape. Meanwhile I feel like I want to run away and then remember there is nowhere to run to. I decided last night that I need to find some time to take care of myself and meditate or do something that helps me reset. Thanks for posting this and helping me feel like it’s not just me. I needed that.

    • Oh, that Gwenyth. Ha. A prime example. So glad these words resonated with you — can’t even imagine what you have on your plate. Take care of yourself, friend.

  15. Same. My response to having to teach my 3 kids from home is that I’m not a teacher, and I let that expectation fall away. I also have a kid w special needs. I’m looking around at all the spring things growing green, and growing at all despite the pandemic, and it makes me think my kids will be okay. They will grow and thrive no matter what I do. Or don’t do.
    Thanks for sticking around, TME!

    • You’re so welcome. And, yep — they will be ok. Honestly, it already helps just knowing we’re all feeling this way. We’ll be ok, too.

  16. Thanks for sharing and as we enter a longer duration, this is where I’m trying to mentally shift and adapt to the new (albeit temporary) reality. [Disclaimer– that does not address those who’s ability to earn income has been altered or vanished] That said, for those with economic security and assuming no additional high-health risk factors, this is our time to dig deep, take a breath and demonstrate to our kids (with grace and the inevitable failures) what doing our part looks like. What grit and determination looks like, what saying daily gratitude for the food on our table, the roof over our head, electricity, and potable water. This is where stripped of some of the sprinkles of life, I want to reinforce for my children that it’s in the tough times when we learn what makes us our best. I’m refocusing on how my kids can pitch in more and teach them it’s not all about playdates, sports, birthday parties, or non-stop entertainment. Sometimes we’re bored, sometimes it’s just about chores, and a simple dinner, and no, Mom’s not baking you cookies or cakes EVERY DAY. We talk about sacrifice; our family members working in the ICU right now, Daddy protecting others as a law enforcement officer. We talk about suffering, hard work, disappointment, we talk about life. My kids are early elementary school and I can use this time to continue to teach them mental, emotional, and physical strength, and caring for others. They’re expanding their chores, we’re doing daily PE, they’re left to play by themselves while I do my work. It’s okay to be overwhelmed with work, dishes, cleaning, parenting on a daily basis, because it won’t be like this forever. I remind my kids this is us doing our part and it’s not suppose to be easy or non-stop distractions or entertainment–and then I remind myself of the same. This won’t break us– so carry on mamas.

    • There’s so much excellent content here, KAM. Thanks for sharing. YES to gratitude. YES to teaching moments. YES to sacrifice. (And, of course, tremendous thanks to your family members in the ICU and your partner protecting our streets.) I agree that it won’t actually break us, but in the moment I was writing this, I was SO very close to breaking, well, down. I think the “left to play by themselves while I do my work” is the part that is escaping me at the moment. Lana will play SO WELL by herself at the most random times, but the second I HAVE to get something done, she needs me. I know it’s about trying to take advantage of those moments and making do, but there’s a learning curve, for sure. Thanks for the insight. 🙂

  17. Seriously! I feel like all I see are posts from people without kids about what they are bingeing/reading or from people without jobs about the amazing lesson plans and schedules they have for their kids. Where are the moms falling behind at their jobs which have decreed it’s “business as usual” because they are also the primary caregiver for an energetic toddler whose daycare is now closed?? (One of them is in my house).

    • My house, too! And — per these comments — more houses than I realized. We’re truly not alone in this. It doesn’t make it any easier, but it sure makes me feel less crazy!

  18. I have a 9 month old and a 3 year old and am a humanitarian aid worker working on planning an entire child protection response for a country in East Africa. In. Over. My. Head.

    • Wow. Just…wow. I don’t even fully know how to respond to your work, but it sounds both overwhelming and invaluable. Thank you — sending hugs, and well-rested vibes!

  19. SAME, same and SAME. This magic time. I don’t see it. I have a full time work at home job, so does my husband. And as much as I am thankful for that it is also hard. I have two really good friends who are swamping kids just to get a break once a week. I would highly recommend. Find one friend and swap with them so you get a least an hour to shop alone or time to breath. Good luck Mamas!

    • I love that idea, but our community has been SO conservative about social distancing that I’m not sure swapping kids would be a realistic option around here. I love that it’s affording you that time to breathe, though – SO very needed!

  20. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for this post! Yes, yes, yessssss – I struggle with this daily and definitely do not have “extra” time and have definitely been bookmarking the assignments coming home as I juggle work, meals, SNACKS, comfort time, outside time, WORK again and more. I have two kids – a pre-schooler and a special needs 2nd grader (and my husband) that I’m trying to keep sane. I am exhausted when my head hits the pillow and want to cry when it’s time to wake up and start the cycle again. Believe it or not – this article made my day.

  21. YES! Yes to every word. Thank you for making me feel “seen”. I’m trying to breathe in, breathe out, breathe in … and remember that my kids feel the same way. We can do this. We have to do this. I just have to remind myself a million times a day. Sending love, peace, compassion, and all the good stuff I’ve got your way.

  22. Taking a break and reading this. I think I’ve never been this busy in my life, 2 working adults, 2 kids at home, but feeling lucky to have income. I have friends with no more income, and no children at home, I would choose what I have any day over lack of income, or being bored and trapped at home alone.

    • Definitely never bored. And definitely never alone. (Like, ever.) In all seriousness, though, thanks for the perspective. I do love the opportunity we have to be spending more time together, and of course I’m so grateful that we’re both working at all. Honestly, it’ll be fascinating to see what we recall most about these few months in 5 or 10 years from now. I’m sure my ranting won’t make the cut.

  23. Thank you for this post. Most of my day is sucked up with working from home and helping the kids with e-learning. The rest of the time is spent checking in on my Dad who lives alone, my siblings who are in some cases now unemployed or facing potential unemployment, oh and driving to three different grocery stores to track down things that are out of stock. It’s draining. I’m grateful to have my job and our health, but this is far from a vacation. I was so happy to hear that there was another sole out there who felt the same way. Thank you!

    • Far from a vacation. So well said. I know there’s a silver lining here somewhere, and I try to remind myself of that, but the intent keeps getting lost amidst all the other…stuff…that takes over. Definitely not alone, friend!

  24. Like so many other readers, I too needed this post today! No extra time here – physician mama trying to see full panel of patients from home now and help my team prep for the COVID surge until I am called in next week to be on the frontlines in our hospital, have kids at home and a work-from-home husband trying to keep his business afloat too. Have felt like I’m falling behind more than ever! Thanks for being a voice of reason and validating that I’m not the only one feeling like I’m missing out on some universal parenting experience of all this “extra time” to clean, organize, have “quality family time”, binge Netflix, bake, etc. We are all experiencing this differently. Stay well ladies whatever your situation!

    • I can’t even imagine being in the healthcare field at this time. Thank you for being on the frontlines both at work and at home. Sending big hugs and honks and pot n’ pan bangs of appreciation (not sure what they’re doing to acknowledge healthcare workers in your neck of the woods, but it’s pots and pans around here!) your way!

  25. I nearly crack up when a friend shoots a text that they are bored. Is it wrong that I’m jealous? I want to be bored. That sounds so refreshing and luxurious to be bored. Like you, I’m a chef, mom, maid, full time employee (from home) and tech/distance learning expert (on both ends, as I’m a teacher). All while getting up at 5AM with the one year old. I didn’t realize that drive to and from work was keeping me grounded…

    • Boredom as a luxury — something I didn’t understand at all until I had a kiddo! And yes, who would have thought I would be missing the drive to pick-up SO much? Those 20 mins were just the reset I needed! Maybe we should all escape for a drive around the block once a day…?

  26. Heather C- you and I must be channeling the same life plan. Four boys at my house- one also has special needs. I am so I incredibly thankful that the boys’ school has been so involving, continuing special classes and speech therapies via Zoom ( and Canvas, and at least two more sites I can’t even remember the names of). But dear Lord, my head is spinning with all the account numbers and log-in times and printed off work sheets that need to be photographed and sent. I used to love to run away and go to work as my “other” job as a nurse anesthetist at the hospital – but the joy had gone out of that place since I needed to start wearing rubber shoes into work to avoid tracking Covid all over my house. This WILL make us stronger, right?!?

    • Rebecca and Heather C — you are both saints. As I said in the post, I have ONE kid and I’m feeling torn in a million directions. Sending you guys mega virtual hugs. And yes, we’ll all be stronger for this. We HAVE to be.

  27. The days are GONE in a blink. There is no free time, but I have noticed that we don’t have the rush in the evenings and afternoons to get to activities. That is kind of nice. But yeah, no long luxurious stretches of time! I did a home project on Sunday instead of going to wherever it is we usually go to, which was kind of cool. And one thing I’ve been doing to help is make bigger batches of food and then eat leftovers. This means no cooking at least a few nights a week.

    • YES — I do love not having to rush around to places, but I still feel like there’s a tiny person running about in my brain, haha. I will say that we stopped setting alarm clocks, which is a bit refreshing. I mean, we’re always up at a reasonable time for morning coffee and conference calls (no one is truly sleeping in), but it’s been particularly nice not having to wake Lana in the morning and knowing she’s getting the sleep she needs! Love the idea of batch cooking to make a few weeknights simpler!

    • Haha, funny you should say that. I have approximately 13 bananas in my freezer that have been sitting there with the best of intentions for at least six months. Looks like they’ll be there for another six!

  28. Emily, this one’s for you: I’ve been reading through the comments and am struck by your love and empathy — to respond so thoughtfully, humorously and cleverly to each of us, when you, like all of us, are so short on time? As my great-uncle would say, “Holy crow!” It’s beautiful, and also helps us all feel supported and seen.
    Massive elbow-bump to you, superstar!

    • Awh, thank you so much, Jennifer. That honestly means so much. I was so moved that this struck a chord with so many people — and we love our readers and are always so appreciative when YOU take the time to comment and engage with us (this can be a pretty isolating job at times!), so I was thrilled to keep the conversation going. And: “holy crow!” Might have to steal that one. 😉 Elbow bump back atcha!

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