By Markos Soares
Maria Maffei says when the pandemic first shut down schools, it added a lot of stress to the already busy lives of working parents.
“Just trying to figure out what to do with my kids for that first week of school closing was terrifying.”
The 42-year-old works as a Citizens Service Officer at Passport Canada, and has three children, aged 5, 12 and seven. She says adding the stress was that many of her support systems shut down as well, meaning her kids no longer had access to after-school care, extra-curricular activates, and sports programs.
“Finding daycare, who’s going to watch them while we are at work, who’s going to feed them, it was horrible.”
She’s not alone. COVID-19 has affected millions around the globe and has caused unwanted stress to many, but parents took on an extra burden when schools shut down.
“It’s every parent’s nightmare, do we have enough electronic devices for them to do their schoolwork from home?” she said. “How can I as a parent now working from home balance my work and try to teach my grade one child math lessons and keep up with all her homework?”
In Maria’s case, her kids loved being at school and online schooling was not ideal for them.
“My kids love it, they are dying to go back to school because they want to see their friends.”
There’s also the worry of how the pandemic is affecting the children and affecting their mental well-being.
“I wanted to make sure that they weren’t by themselves and I didn’t want them to go through any depression or just thinking that they feel alone.”
Experts say it is very easy to feel alone and trapped in these unfortunate circumstances but the most important thing to acknowledge is that you are not alone during this and that this is happening to many parents around the globe.
In an article called A Way Forward for Working Parents in the Harvard Business Review, Daisy Dowling, Founder, and CEO of Workparent explainedhowparents going through stress and panic during the pandemic can stay confident, connected, and in control.
She writes many parents feel they’re falling into “The Bad, Guilty, Failing, Lonely Trap”
Falling into this trap can happen, but it’s important to understand to take time for yourself at the same time, as well as taking the added pressures of parenting in the age of smartphones.
She recommends putting your phone away for at least 20 minutes every day and cherishing the times you have with your family. She adds many have rediscovered the act of eating together.
“Having family dinner’s every night, having movie nights multiple times a week, not having to rush to hockey and soccer games,” she writes. “There are many negatives about the lockdown but there are also some positives.”
Getting through these times as a working parent is all about confidence and control. Understanding your situation and telling yourself that you are a great parent and a great worker, finding that balance will help you in the long run.
Emma Conway, author and parenting blogger spoke with Sarah Young, writer for The Independent in an article calledCoronavirus: How to work from home when you have children. She offered tips on dealing with working from home while also caring for children during the pandemic.
- Establish routines
- Communicate with your partner
- Take advantage of technology
- Focus on the positives.
Maffei says she’s learning how to parent amid the pandemic.
“This experience has humbled us as a family, all the negativity has shown us such a dark and stressful side, but at the end of the day we are strong and this experience in a strange way has brought us even closer together.”