Time to yourself is limited with kids and a job as it is, but throw a pandemic on top of that, and you probably can’t remember the last time you had a break.
Remember alone time? If you’re a parent and working full time (or full-time parenting), this pandemic has robbed us of “me time” — which was pretty sparse to begin with.
When I look back at how much my life has changed in the last 8 months, I realize that those mindless tasks that were once just a part of the daily routine were actually nice little luxuries.
My “me time” consisted of morning walks to the subway where I could listen to music or a podcast, stop for a latte at my favorite coffee shop, and have a bit of a break between being a mom and entering an office building to begin work for the day.
It was 45 minutes of commuting when I found time to meditate or just let go for a minute, and most importantly, get my Amazon orders processed, text my girlfriends to make our monthly dinner plans, and google parenting tips on the issue of the day.
Nowadays, there is no such thing as alone time. OK, I guess you could say I’m alone right now as I work on this letter, but my commute today consisted of walking up a flight of stairs to sit at a small folding table while trying to concentrate on work as I hear my son constantly asking the nanny, “Where mommy go?”
There are no breaks in this parenting pandemic life we’re all living. Even though your situation is different than mine and the person who lives next to you, there is one thing we all can agree on: This is hard.
I think it’s especially hard for parents who are trying to work while their kids are in school.
Whether your children are at home trying to learn remotely, or you made the decision to send them for live classes, these are tough decisions and ones we constantly second-guess: If my kids stay home will they be ruined socially? If I send my kids to school are they going to get COVID-19 and then bring it home to our family?
There are no wrong decisions. And you should be able to make your decisions without other parents placing any judgement. That’s what Healthline Parenthood is here for — to give you support, guidance, and advice in a judgement-free zone to help you during this difficult time.
We’ve put together a series of articles — “Working and Parenting: Support for the Struggle Right Now” — that can help you tackle the struggle of working from home while being a full-time parent. (And we’re talking to you, too, stay-at-home parents, because that’s a full-time job.) Life is a lot right now, and we need help now more than ever.
In this content series, some articles you can look forward to reading include:
- 13 Tips to Help Working Parents Actually Get Things Done
- A Parents’ Guide to Managing Pandemic Uncertainty
- Powering Through Isn’t Always the Answer: Parenting Has Limits, Too
- How to Ask for Flexibility at Work, Because We All Need It Right Now
- Even in This Moment, We Can Raise Our Kids to Find the Good
We’re here to support you and make sure you don’t feel alone in this wild ride, because we promise you’re not!
To further remind you of that, I reached out to a handful of parents who have the same thing in common. It helps to hear how others are experience this difficult time, and more importantly, how they’re coping:
My biggest challenge is the constant shifting of gears. I’m working from home with a baby, a bored preschooler, and a second grader in remote learning, so my mind is constantly jumping from one thought process to another. It’s a constant mental hopscotch — trying to focus when someone always needs you is mentally draining.
I’m not efficient at all right now, but if anything, I’m getting really good at learning to roll with the punches.
— Saralyn Ward, Healthline Parenthood editor
As a mom of twin daughters right now my biggest challenge is finding ways for my tweens to socialize with their friends. My homeschooled girls love socializing and are used to taking classes at museums, visiting recreation centers, and traveling. However, since the pandemic some of our favorite spaces are closed, and we are mostly homebound.
Although we hope to be able to connect with their friends in the near future, we try to enjoy ourselves together as a family. We have played board games, attended drive-in movies, gone hiking, taken a family road trip, etc. We also gave our daughters cell phones, so they could video chat with their friends.
When we feel comfortable we will plan outside activities with their friends, but for now we’ll make the most of our time making fun memories with each other.
— Elle Cole, founder of Cleverly Changing
My children are all in middle or high school, and while I’m intensely grateful that means they’re old enough to work on their schoolwork independently most of the time, it also means that they’re very aware of everything happening right now. I’m finding the biggest challenges to be the emotional impact and anxiety that pandemic life has brought forward.
It’s simple, but watching TV and movies together has given us a shared vocabulary of one-liners for almost any situation. And while laughter is an essential part of managing daily stress, we’re also upping the cuddles by fostering kittens for a local rescue. Caring for those tiny lives helps to remind us that even small actions can have a big impact, and that life can be messy and funny and stinky and sad and beautiful, but that, no matter what, it’s worth doing.
— Sara McTigue, Healthline Parenthood editor
Working from home with the kids and homeschooling has been a lot of things — ranging from heartwarmingly tender to soul crushingly frustrating. If it wasn’t for the team effort of the whole family (especially my wife) in navigating this new world, I don’t know how we’d manage.
I just keep reminding myself that the extra time we get to spend together is fortuitous, and someday maybe I’ll believe me!
— Patrick Joseph Quinn, Healthline Parenthood writer
Working full time from home with two little kids is chaos in family form. In my dark moments (and there have been a few!), it all feels totally overwhelming. But these three things are helping:
- I remember back to the beginning of this year, when all I wanted was more time with my family. I’ve gotten my wish, and with it the gift of so many amazing memories of this time together. Gratitude for that single thing puts life into a much healthier perspective.
- I’m working on really being there when I’m with my husband and kids. At the end of each workday, I leave my phone in another room and just try to be present for at least an hour. With no physical work-life separation, I need my kids to know when I shift gears — and that’s been helping me a lot too.
- Thanks to lots of meditating in the very wee hours, I’ve kind of surrendered to the roller-coaster ride that is life right now, and it’s helping me trust that this won’t last forever.
— Dria Barnes, Vice President of Content and Brand Strategy at Healthline
Use our content package, “Working and Parenting: Support for the Struggle Right Now,” to help you cope when you’re having a rough go. Remember, we really are all in this together. And there’s no denying that you are being the best parents you can be, and your kids are lucky to have you.
Editorial Director, Healthline Parenthood