Having to work from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic presents a unique set of challenges, such as figuring out a workspace, attending videoconferences with kids and pets vying for attention, and more. We asked children’s publishing staffers how they are coping.
Megan Peace, editor, Scholastic/Graphix
My tiny one-bedroom apartment is already stretched pretty thin. First, there was me and my husband. Then we added a French Bulldog. And eight months ago, we added a baby. There’s space for very little, but we still managed to squeeze a desk in there. Let me say that again with the proper inflection: we still managed to squeeze a desk in there. Since New York has mandated that all non-essential workers work from home, my husband and I have one desk to share in our 400-square-foot apartment, so I find creative spaces to set up my laptop. I’ve been at the kitchen counter, the bed, the couch. Surprisingly, one of the most effective locations is my ottoman. It’s a decent height to complete my work, and simultaneously gives me an opportunity to have parallel play with my baby (and dog)! Pictured here, my “intern” and I are reviewing a pass of Owly: Just a Little Blue by Andy Runton.
Jody Mosely, associate publisher, Abrams Children’s Books
My husband and I swap kids every other day. One day I get to oversee a seventh grader and the other day a third grader. Today is my third grader Luke’s day and he just told me that Daddy is nicer than me and I have more meetings. Somehow—he says—I make him do more school stuff than Daddy.
Caitlin Sweeny, director of marketing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
From my office I have a great view of 6th Avenue... and this is my new view (l.). We’ve fallen into a routine where she leaves me alone until about 3 or 4 p.m,. when she decides it’s time for me to stop working and shows her displeasure by blocking my screen, trying to knock everything off the desk, and making guest appearances during Zoom meetings.
Julie Matysik, editorial director, Running Press Kids
I was in a video conference meeting with the publisher and suddenly my three-year-old daughter screamed from the bathroom: “Mommy, I pooped!!!” And I had to pause the meeting to go and wipe her butt.
Charles Kochman, editorial director, Abrams ComicArts
Working from home during a pandemic is more challenging than I ever could have imagined. Between email, texts, calls, Zoom meetings, Facebook, and Instagram messages, folks are reaching out constantly, and from every direction. My only respite is after hours, but then there’s the news and the matter of what to cobble together for dinner. It could be worse: I read that only 29% of Americans are able to work from home, so I am grateful for this luxury, unlike so many brave and essential workers who are on the front lines in hospitals and grocery stores keeping us safe and supplied.
Carol Hinz, editorial director, Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books
Adjusting to working from home with two elementary-age kids has been a challenge. Recently, author and agent Miranda Paul offered to tell my six-year-old son jokes on FaceTime so that I could get some work done. Being an extremely thorough researcher, she printed five pages of jokes! As shown in this screenshot, my son also did his best to make Miranda laugh. My favorite joke she told is this one: “Why was the little strawberry sad? Because her parents were in a jam!”
Marisa Russell, executive director of publicity, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I don’t think my colleagues ever anticipated my stopping a meeting to tell my children they cannot have another snack 15 minutes after the last one, but here we are.
Kerry Martin, director of art and design, Holiday House
Working at home with my almost six-year-old son, Jiro, has been a challenge. At the start of our company’s first meeting on our first day of telecommuting, he announced loudly how many trophies he won on his video game, which broke the Google chat ice. Jiro serenades me while I work, and he was inspired by an art delivery from one of our talented illustrators. He claimed he could make a better drawing.
Caitlyn M. Dlouhy, v-p and editorial director, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
No longer able to take my long twice-daily walk from Penn Station to Rockefeller Center as I was no longer commuting into the city, I’d initially worried (along with dozens of other worries) that quarantine would turn me into a chair-potato. I needn’t have fretted.
That very first day home, an unexpected form of exercise immediately presented itself. I call it “letting out the animals.” It goes like this: Immerse yourself deep into a line edit of a manuscript. Hundred-pound dog will hit Let Me Outside bell. Let out the dog. Pick said manuscript back up. Count to four; let out one cat. Dog back in. 10 seconds later, another cat goes out. A minute later, a cat I hadn’t even realized was outside wants in. The dog wants out again. One of the I-let-out cats is back up on the porch, but just stares with its I’m Good, Just Hanging Here On the Porch With the Birds look and won’t come in. Until I sit down with the manuscript, and then its face is plastered against the door. I let that cat in. Cat previously let in 20 seconds earlier is now asleep on my manuscript. PURRING. That goes on, oh, nearly all day. I’m not even going to touch the 300 snacks my quaranTEENs apparently neeeeeeeeeeed during the course of a single day of Distance Learning. Or the chinchilla’s sudden obsession with banana chips. So maybe I don’t have a chair-potato problem after all?