Over half of our country’s states are in a state of emergency, and COVID-19 is just revving up in the Midwest. Dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom gets complicated. Schools are closing left and right, and we assume it’s only a matter of time before it hits home here. People are being instructed to work from home. As a mom who works from home, and home schools, I know just how challenging that is! And I’m used to it! I’ve got some tips for working parents who will suddenly have to deal with the Corona consequences. What is a working mom to do?
We are perfectly positioned to lead our families into this uncharted area. Our kids take their cues from us. If we’re looking to blame leadership for the US being in this situation, kids will learn to blame. If we take a different approach and try to figure out what we can do to make this awful scenario better, kids will learn to problem solve. As parents, it’s the time to show our kids “we’ve got this!” while at the same time being willing to admit we have a lot to learn!
Be cautious about what you talk about in front of kids. Many are too emotionally young to be involved in a conversation about the financial impact this could have on your family. We need to model positive behavior even if we’re worried. Dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom or any mom can get emotional.
They may worry about their grandparents, and it’s up to us to confirm their concerns while at the same time, helping them feel confident that grandma will likely be fine! It doesn’t help the child to say “Don’t cry!” or “Don’t worry!” Instead, try “It sounds like you’re pretty worried about Grandma, huh? It’s true that older people are more susceptible to complications, but (and then list ways she’s taking precautions)”
Consider your childcare options and create a backup.
Plan ahead for babysitters to fill in child care gaps. Begin posting for help in community groups. Get a membership for Care.com and call up some people.
Plan for online schooling.
Many school districts have already begun to take learning out of the classroom and have placed their lesson plans online. Dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom gets complicated. As more and more schools begin to close, this seems to be the intention of school districts everywhere. It’s a good thing for containment. Online learning at home presents a host of additional considerations.
Sanction technology judiciously.
With the potential for the whole family to be home for an extended period, consider how you will use technology to make things work for all of you.
For younger children, recognize that you might want to relax normal screen-time restrictions to free you up to get more work done. For older children, keep in mind that they may be expected to use technology to complete schoolwork from home. If you do not have enough computers and tablets for everyone to use at the same time, consider how you can work with what you have so that everyone can do what they need. Familiarize yourself now with their school’s technology system so you’re not scrambling to figure it out later.
Understand the limitations of your technological capabilities, and think, in advance, about how you can work together to make sure everyone gets what they need. For example, your internet speed might not support your video conference calls while your kids stream Netflix. Dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom is challenging.
Closings due to Coronavirus will be different than snow days when children often get together and entertain each other while a parent works from home. Since the goal is to contain a highly contagious virus, social distancing will be the norm and technology may, briefly, need to be your child’s best friend — and teacher.
Prepare to work from home.
We are seeing shutdowns take place everywhere from sporting arenas to universities, with many employees being temporarily sidelined. Figure out the details ahead of time. Ask the questions of where you’ll work, when you’ll work. Can you do it after bedtime? Is there flexibility in your partner’s schedule? Think outside the box of traditional work hours and places. Don’t be afraid to broach these difficult, but important conversations. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” so plan ahead and set yourself up for success. Dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom takes prep work.
Unexpected weeks out of school will feel like an eternity, especially when practicing “social distancing. Since I don’t see Mary Poppins floating into the the rescue, we’ve got a great post of what to do with cooped up kids: want some quick ideas?
- Secret snack stash, with the type of snacks your children love, but you would never ordinarily agree to buying.
- Stock up on age-appropriate activities: puzzles, art projects, toys, video games, movies, books.
- Do not dole them out all at once! Not more than one new treasure per day.
- A little boredom is great and allows for a child’s innate creativity to flourish.
- Make the kids clean something every time they interrupt you.
- Engage the kids in the cooking process. Make sure you have basic ingredients on hand now and go at it.
- Baking is a great way to pass the time and produces the best cabin fever rewards.
- Buy or check out a ton of audio books. Audio books do the exact same thing in the brain as reading with your eyes. Youtube also has many read alouds and you can create a play list of your favorites.
Setting Expectations With your Kids
In the event your kids must participate in online learning, establish those boundaries now. They should give their teacher the same respect via online learning they would give in the classroom. Consider whether they will be allowed to participate in online learning with friends, or whether they should practice “social distancing.”
Explain to your kids what your availability will be if you are working from home. Set a timer and step out of the office periodically to check on the kids if you don’t have a child care helper available. Set boundaries now of when you will start and end the day and what meal times will look like.
The kids will definitely want to spend time with you and want your attention. It’s awesome, but it’s impossible to work while doing it. I just had a four year old in here wanting me to draw sheep and a seven year old painting my toenails. I usually give them half of my attention and then after they are done with that one thing, repeatedly tell them to go downstairs until they do. Dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom needs creativity and consistency.
Expectations With your Work
Think through the different scenarios that may play out in the upcoming weeks. Let your boss know the purpose of your conversation, which is to clarify your mutual expectations for different Covid-19 scenarios: “Here is my understanding of how we might handle this situation. Do I have it right? What am I missing?”
Relentlessly seek to comprehend your boss’s expectations, with follow-up questions about specifics. Remember that the goal is to find ways to make things work for everyone, not just you. The good news is that genuine conversations like these strengthen relationships and improve performance for everyone.
Expectations with Parenting Partners
Parenting Partners are anyone who helps you raise your kids- from child care providers to your romantic partner. Even under the best circumstances, figuring out how to share child rearing and home responsibilities with a parenting partner can be full of frustration and resentment. With the nearly positive prospect that one, or both, of you may need to adjust your schedules to accommodate school, and work closures and childcare disruptions, you should begin, now, to talk about possible solutions.
Whether it’s working in shifts or creating different zones in the house, seek out creative solutions now. Come up with back up ideas, no matter how crazy. You never know what will work for you, and your kids! Dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom needs many ideas.It’s likely that nothing will go according to plan but if you do your calm and rational talking now, when you aren’t in crisis mode, you will likely be better able to adjust the plan to benefit everyone as much as possible.
Expectations from your Schools
If your local schools have not already communicated their game plan in the event of an outbreak, ask them for one. As a parent, you deserve the right to know what to expect, to the extent they know. Ask specifics, as many as you can think of.
Marshal your village.
Talk through different situations with all the people who will be involved in each scenario. Learn from others who are already working with children around, whether it’s online or over the phone. Use their experiences and wisdom. Reach out on our community groups to begin conversations about how others are handling it.
AND THIS IS KEY to dealing with Coronavirus as a working mom:
Plan to get outside! Whether you drive to a wooded area to walk in nature, or just go for a walk around the block, it’s important for all of you. It’s proven that sunshine and fresh air are natural sanitizers, and they also are key for your and your kids’ mental health.
Remember the bigger pictures.
As parents, it’s our job to lead our children through this potentially scary time. We can use it as an opportunity to talk about what matters most, our family values, and how we work together as a team. This global crisis highlights the interconnectedness of our world. It gives us chances to practice our responsibilities to others.
The Coronavirus presents an opportunity. We can teach importance of helping others in a hands on way. We can be looking out for people in need and offer to help. It underscores the efficacy of small actions like such as curtailing travel or good hand washing practices in order to protect others.
Difficult as it will be to keep our own frustrations and sacrifices at bay, we need to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our society, and be an example of love to our children.
As parents, working moms, stay at home moms, or work at home moms dealing with the Coronavirus, we lead our families. We can teach important lessons about what really matters to our children in this trying time.