Yesterday, a small conversion between my 5 years old son and myself struck me. It went as following.

My son: Mommy, may I have an ijsje please? It has been an entire whole week since I had the last one. (with his little arm around my neck and about to grant me a kusje in case he gets a yes)

Me: But did you just eat one yesterday??

My son: Yes, but but that was last week and today is Monday…

I had a good laugh and reflected whether am I still catching up with counting the date of today? I must admit except only this small deficiency, I am surviving very fine. Nothing is changed except everything went online and at home.     

  • How does my typical day/week look like?

With two kids (5 and 7) at primary school, my husband and I were well prepared for working from home and home-schooling before everything started. The division was made very much tailored to our own expertise as well. 

Most of the mornings, while I am primarily occupied with online meetings downstairs, my husband oversees the home-schooling upstairs. All three occupy one device each for online lessons/homework/readings and gaming time is rewarded when study is well-done.

At 12:30 sharp, there is a distinct switch.

After a much more elaborate lunch than at school/work, we three play downstairs and husband goes to working mode upstairs. Ironic enough, being a teacher at the university and a supervisor of a research group, myself am no home-schooling material. My activities with the kids involve mostly playing. I everyday take them to playgrounds (many different ones blessed with the good weather), watch them play random games and regularly receive language/geography/chess/bridge lessons from them. Often, I am also picked to play with only one of them because they want an easy win. Sometimes, they entertain each other so well, I even have time to do some exercises (dancing and amateur gymnastic exercises) in our small garden and/or sending an email or two.

Morning, noon and afternoon activities of the day

In the evening, when the kids in bed and husband on his computer, I can then have the complete calmness for an hour or two to prepare teaching, meetings and to read manuscripts.

In the weekends, we sleep long and relax. Sometimes, we go to the forests for a long walk and sometimes we cook some dishes requiring extensive preparation (such as dumplings).  

  • How do I communicate with my group and with CCER and DIFFER and TU/e?

I’d say we are doing excellent in online communications after all we are a computational research group. We have used almost everything, skype (for business), whatsapp, wechat, teams, webex, slack, canvas, google hangout, zoom… you name it. Weekly group meetings and progress meetings go on as usual; occasionally my kids and their dolls also appear in those meetings. Most group members have been motivated in providing materials for discussion in advance and some are even more motivated in the discussion because the screens help to shield some of the shyness (Haibo told me at least). In some cases, where heavy mathematics is involved, the drawback of talking to the screens also shows. Luckily, we are adapting fast with the availability of many digital whiteboards. We become more patient. Overall, we manage well, and we are almost equally productive online.

Although I enjoy the regular small-scale meetings with my group members, I have made the choice to be less active in other large-scale online meetings, such as, online conferences, online seminars and staff meetings of DIFFER and TU/e. But I do miss the gezelligheid of such meetings, so something to look forward to when physical meetings are possible again.      

  • What is exciting?

I have got new molecule sets: see a MAPbI3 perovskite crystal with no net dipole:). I have also a brand-new DIY haircut with the help of my mother-in-law.

  • What do I miss?

A normal orientation to time.

My two large/fancy monitors at my office at DIFFER.

The random conversations with colleagues at coffee/lunch breaks at DIFFER building.