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The New Abnormal: Being a Working Mom & Teacher

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JulieAnn Folan

JulieAnn Folan

Writer, wife, and mother to two little girls.

I feel like any working mom can relate to this scenario right now. You’re on a conference call for work. Your two year old decides to abandon the activity you painstakingly set up for her, rip off her diaper and have a dance party in the kitchen. Meanwhile, your husband is holed up in his new basement office on a conference video call of his own.

*Insert mind-blown emoji*

How did we get here?! For many working moms like me, this is the reality in homes across our country right now due to the effects of COVID-19. Just when you thought parenting couldn’t get any more challenging, enter a global pandemic.

I went from working in an office part-time to being home every day with two school-aged children. Not as major of a shift as some households, but a shift for sure. The first few weeks had me rotating between the roles of Mom, teacher, personal chef, activity coordinator, referee and playmate—all while trying to do my own work and wrap my brain around a handful of new technology platforms. My head was spinning. I was up for the challenge though; I was going to do this and do it great!

…Skip to day 4 when I realize that holy HELL we don’t pay our teachers and daycare providers did enough (nor give them enough credit). Is social distancing over yet?? Send help!

And here we still are over a month later and for several more weeks to come. Are things still weird? Heck yes. But along the way, I’ve found some ways to help us adjust and maintain some level of normalcy. Here are the 5 staples to our day that have helped us survive the last 5 weeks, and some days (dare I say) even thrive.

 

Routine

The biggest thing I’ve learned so far: No two days will be the same, but setting a schedule is absolutely necessary. Having a routine helps the day flow with ease and less aggravation, mainly because kids thrive on routine —they like knowing what to expect next. And in turn, you can expect fewer meltdowns. Ultimate parenting goal, am I right?

 

Starting our “school day” with something familiar from their actual school experience puts them in the learning mindset. Big sister Anna loved taking the lead and teaching Gracie how to say the pledge.

 

It’s OK to play

After breakfast I let the girls have some time to just play freely — use their imaginations, get their sillies out and burn off a little energy before the school work starts. This also allows me time for some self-care.

 

Self-care

I try to start each day with a Zoom workout while my girls have their free time. It helps me mentally prepare for the day and keeps me feeling motivated and healthy. Self-care has never been more important! You may not be able to swing this first thing in the morning, but try your best to do something for yourself during the day — a walk, a bath, sitting with a book for 30 minutes, something just for you.

 

Quiet time

After school work and lunch, we settle into some quiet time. I strongly believe in quiet time, especially if your kid(s) don’t nap anymore. They can do a puzzle, watch a movie, read independently, etc. During this time I might start preparing dinner (or at least start thinking about it). Read: I’m most likely washing my face or stealing a few minutes of alone time to go into working mom mode and squeeze some writing in.

 

Get outside

Next up, we try to get out for some fresh air —take a hike, go for a bike ride, play on the swingset, do sidewalk chalk. This is SUPER important. Our kids are spending more time in the house these days than ever before. Getting outside mixes it up, fresh air wipes them out and nature is an instant mood-booster.

 

Anna & Gracie visit the Sheep Pasture
We love visiting the Sheep Pasture in our town — the animals have no idea what’s going on in the world right now, but I’m sure they enjoy the extra visitors these days.

 

And there it is, the 5 essential pillars of our day. I realize many of you working moms reading this may be in different positions in regards to your work schedules—more demanding ones and less flexible than my freelance writing gig allows, and I give you SO much credit. You may not feel like it, but you’re a superhero. For. Real.

All I can say is, whatever your situation, give yourself grace. Accept that you’re fulfilling multiple full-time roles right now and it’s simply not possible to do each one perfectly. Remove the word “perfect” from your vocabulary because ain’t no one got time for that pressure!

 

The Folan Family, Quarantine 2020
Capturing Quarantine with the help of a local photographer. A portion of the proceeds supported a food pantry in our area.

 

We are all doing the best we can in the current circumstances. (Yes, a lot more screen time may be happening in your home right now and that is OK). If there was ever a time to cut yourself some slack, this is it. The name of the game here is survival, people. As long as your family is safe, healthy and happy… you’re a rockstar in my eyes.

About NeighborSchools

NeighborSchools help working parents find the best home daycares for busy lives and precious little ones. Now more than ever, child care options are scarce, crazy expensive, and, in many cases, really stuffy and corporate. NeighborSchools home daycare finally offers an alternative: fully licensed providers, with years of experience, caring for a small number of children, all right in the neighborhood. Every month thousands of working parents use NeighborSchools to learn about their options and find the right provider for them.

It’s completely free to browse daycares and take the Match Me tool to see which providers have space for you and your little one.

JulieAnn Folan

JulieAnn Folan

Writer, wife, and mother to two little girls.

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