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Working and Schooling Amidst COVID-19

Working moms and dads, and that’s all of us, how are you doing?

For me, this virus and the sudden juggling of my life from my home office came on like a swarm of locusts. From another continent, it didn’t look so bad. Three weeks later… [cue the bad memes.]

When someone asks me how I am doing, my auto-pilot response sounds something like, “oh fine, we’ve got plenty to keep us busy and a ton of food in the house,” a light, socially acceptable response to a well-meaning neighbor or a just-reaching-out text.

A more sincere, less trite response would acknowledge the daily raw emotions I am feeling, like panic (deadlines, new technology!?) and frustration (wifi and distractions.) Or my favorite struggle, entertaining far too many “what if” scenarios.

But I have a job that I love and healthy kids, so the whining stops at 9 AM sharp.

I wish I could say the Molinaris Family figured it out and can now pass along the recipe for happy homeschooling/working from home. But the truth is, every week has been a different variation of “making it work.” I’m relying on a ten-year-old to bring independent work habits to the table that he doesn’t possess yet, so sometimes the social studies doesn’t get done.

My work, though, has to get done. I imagine most of us parents feel the same way. We have so many balls in the air, now homeschooling among the new things to learn and do. All very important things, but some of the balls simply can’t be dropped.

I realized in the first few days that I had to set aside blocks of time during which no one is allowed to disturb me. Sometimes those blocks happen really late at night or really, really early in the morning. I mean, ridiculous times when no one should be awake. Little by little, my afternoon block is becoming sacred. Nothing, not even the signal of a complete load of clothes in the dryer, pulls me away (mostly true.)

Sometimes I lock myself in a room to take a call.

Sometimes I talk to myself. More lately.

There have been days that my responsibilities as a teacher left little time to do my part as a homeschooling parent. When it comes to my personal child and his school work, a hard-won 75% is called a “win” at my house.

I try to break for lunch with my kids every day so I can reset and give them some of me, however scattered and stretched thin “me” is at the moment. Lunch at our house is simple: fix it, eat it, clean up after yourself. And please throw in a piece of fruit because, even in this chaos, I care about you.

Routines are evolving from somewhere outside of my control (using that term lightly) while my neatly-typed, rigid schedules are being ignored. It’s progress with a mind of its own, I guess.

Speaking of progress, this family-island of mine is starting to feel less isolating and more comforting. It's just us, left to our quirky devices and inside jokes. Snort-laughing and pajama bottoms are making a comeback.

But how are we really doing?

Well, we’re starting each day with joy. Jesus and coffee, just like the t-shirt. We’re sometimes bumping into each other over the bandwidth. We’re figuring out what to do with all of the stuff of four people working from home, and allowing a little more clutter. We’re not getting it all done; some days are pure calamity. But we’re finding time for movies and board games almost every night. The kids are staying up too late. We’re gaining weight from emotional eating. We’re feeling moments of stress, followed by moments of gratitude. There are occasional meltdowns and raised voices. We’re holding our breath about the economy and the price of oil. We’re just trying to do our jobs and take care of each other. We’re doing everything together and that’s usually awesome, but sometimes it's not, if you know what I mean.

And how are you really doing?

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