Editor in Chief Alex Perry shares a day in the life of a stay-at-home working parent during self-isolation.

Before Ohioans were issued to stay inside, many individuals, including myself, had already been relatively home-bound. Working from home while raising children was a routine I’d been used to since I had my first daughter in 2014. I started my business with a 9-month old. This shouldn’t be so hard, I thought mid-March.

How naive I was.

The aforementioned daughter started her educational career this past fall as a kindergartener. My youngest also started her journey as a preschool student. It was a big year for all of us, the first “school year” we’d ever experienced. Homework, new routines, milestones, best friends, crafts. So much fun, and so much to look forward to.

It has been one of the most fulfilling years for me, too. Since I work from home, I was able to fill in as “craft mom” twice, prepare nice treats for snack day, and really get to know the teachers (all of whom I cherish and miss terribly). It was also the first time in five-and-a-half years my schedule had any “open” time for just me without kiddos in tow.

When it all Changed

Before we reached Spring Break, parents received the news that schools were shutting down with classes to resume online. Spoiler alert: adapting to teaching a kindergartener and preschooler via Zoom calls and kitchen table lessons is no walk in the park.

Quickly I realized that I had really gotten used to that extra “open” 15 hours a week to work, clean, and run errands. Losing this dedicated time to work was rough. I went from a work-from-home parent to a stay-at-home working parent during isolation.

My new normal became a juggling act—transitioning between boss bitch to wishful teacher, personal chef, and crafter extraordinaire at the drop of a hat. Like many others, in early April, a large portion of my work (and income) was paused due to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. There was a lot of change happening at once. It all started to become overwhelming for me mid-April.

A New Perspective

But then I took a step back. Because it wasn’t just me going through these changes. It was my children too. It wasn’t just that our days were irregular. We also had to accept that things would stay this way. And that we wouldn’t be going back to “normal.”

On one particularly challenging day, my older daughter was scheduled to read a book to her teacher on Zoom. Sounds pretty simple right? I thought so too. Remember that spoiler alert? Instead of reading, without any energy, she just sat there. Uninterested. Unamused. I tried, her teacher tried, to encourage her to participate.

Being the stay-at-home parent is hard. It's even harder when you also work from home. But that doesn't mean we're the only ones feeling the impact of COVID-19 self isolation.
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It became clear that she just couldn’t. Instead of sounding out “Ted” or “said,” she quite maturely made her point in silent protest. I had to respect that, despite my frustration. After all, they now get 15 minutes together in a week instead of the 15 hours. Finally, we ended our call and took a break from “school.” Let’s tackle this later, we decided.

The following week, she was refreshed. She read an entire book solo, even with her teachers offering to alternate pages with her. It was a humbling lesson for me: we all have bad days. Some days are tough for parents, and our children are no different. Sometimes we need to simply create space to feel our feelings. Once we have the agency to do that, we can prepare to show up for the things needing attending to.

My experiences echo what Medicate OH has been standing by all along—that we are all in this together. As we approach even more change and transition, I want to encourage you to follow my daughter’s advice: Make space for your own silent protests. Return energized.

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