While plenty of Zoom calls and e-learning obligations come with a family’s school-aged children right now, working parents with kids younger than kindergarten face unique challenges. Their infants, toddlers and preschoolers require full-time care and attention.
For Liz Poest, of Macedonia, mom of Riley, 7, Hudson, 4, and Harper, 6 months, life is all thrown into the same box right now.
“My life is no longer compartmentalized,” Poest says. “I used to have time at the office for work, and then time at home with the kids, but now I’m on all the time.”
To combat this all-day multitasking, parents rise early or stay up late for uninterrupted work time. Secluding themselves to a home office or bedroom during the day is helpful, but sounds of a baby crying for a diaper change or to be fed every couple hours, or a toddler falling in the next room make it difficult to stay on task.
Debby Samples, of West Park, tries to prepare activities that her preschooler can do on her own while she’s in a meeting. While things don’t always go according to plan, it’s best to keep things in perspective.
“If I have a heavy day of meetings, my daughter will likely have more screen time and snacks than she would in normal circumstances,” Samples says. “At the end of the day, she had a good time soaking up some kid shows, and I was able to participate in and contribute to work projects I enjoy.”
Both moms agree when we stop putting pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly, everyone gets through the day a little easier.
“We’re doing better than we think we are,” Poest says. “We’re hard on ourselves, but this is an impossible time. We’re not going to be able to do it all, all the time.”
As local childcare centers and preschools begin to reopen, some parents now have the opportunity to resume a partial sense of normalcy.
State-mandated precautions for childcare providers include daily temperature checks, limited child-to-teacher ratios, smaller group activities and rigorous hand-washing requirements for staff and students.
“We are going above and beyond to provide a safe, healthy and enriching environment for children during this time,” says Kristen Newberry, director at Salvation Army Learning Zone Preschool Center. “We are following all state mandatory requirements for the pandemic and more, including teachers wearing masks, curbside pick-up and drop-off, temperature checks throughout the day, individual busy bins, and sanitizing.”
However, some parents are still hesitant to head back too soon.
“I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the team at my daughter’s school and know they are putting an incredible amount of time and effort into making sure they are using the best practices to not only make the kids and staff feel safe, but also comfortable,” Samples says. “All this being said, I will likely wait for the world to settle a bit before sending her back to school.”
Regardless of how you choose to balance working at home and caring for your youngest kiddos, hang in there.
“This time feels very long because we’re in it,” Poest says. “But looking back, it’ll be a blip on the timeline.”