It’s 5:30AM on an unseasonably cool September morning. I head outside for my walk on a quiet, dark morning, hoping to get a few moments of time just to myself. Of course that is short lived – within 45 seconds of being outside, I nearly step in a large pile of dog poop, and almost get run over by a car. I find myself dodging and weaving to keep myself safe, all while trying to navigate in the dark. If this isn’t the perfect metaphor for life right now, I don’t know what is.
The last few months have been some of the hardest months of my life, and the lives of working parents everywhere. Between figuring out how to keep our kids occupied during a summer of no activities and social distancing, to starting back up with school in an entirely new environment, all while trying to keep our heads above water at work, the last few months have been incredibly exhausting. I can tell you with certainty that these last few months have drained me completely. I am NOT doing ok – and here’s why.
I Can Never Manage to Fill My Bucket
Parents have more on their plates now than ever in our lifetimes, as we play the roles of worker, parent and school teacher all at the same time. This expert juggling act is said to potentially set our society back by a generation – and that thought is absolutely crippling. On a good day, I am able to find time to set my kids up on their virtual classrooms, grab half a piece of toast and some coffee and maybe run a comb through my hair. On most days though, I realize right around lunchtime that I haven’t eaten anything, or have to count how many days it’s been since I showered. And once the incredibly demanding workday is done, I immediately go into mom mode, making sure my kids finished their homework, getting food ready for dinner or running out to the store (while yelling at the kids to remember to bring their masks) and after the day is done, I essentially collapse into bed absolutely exhausted. The worst part though, is between the sheer exhaustion of the day and the stress of making sure my family and I are safe, fed, getting on zoom classes and finishing work, I rarely get any sleep these days. I, like most parents, am running on empty and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
My Kids Need Me Now More Than Ever
We live in a school district where our classes are 100% online, and while the amazing educators in our district are doing their best to keep our kids well educated and occupied during the day, it’s still hard to watch my kids struggle in an asynchronous learning environment. In addition, with the lack of extracurricular activities for both my kids (10 and 6 years old) the guilt I feel for not playing with my kids during recess or setting up safe play dates for them is palpable. I can especially see my 6 year old struggle with not having a safe physical outlet to get his body moving and that breaks my heart daily. In addition, what they are craving now more than ever is connection – either with their friends or with us and with the incredible demands of modern life coupled with a global pandemic, delivering on that is so hard. I’m not alone in this – roughly a third of unemployed millennial mothers reported not working because of the closure of a school or child care facility. Without the right support, that number is going to increase in the coming months.
I’m Solving a Problem I’m Living
The irony of this entire post is that I’m trying to solve the exact problem I’m living – how do you find backup childcare when your primary option falls through, i.e. if your nanny calls off, if the school is closed for in-service, or if your family isn’t available to help. All three of these situations occur on an all too regular basis these days, which is why the work Flexable is doing is even more critical now than ever. For the last four years, we’ve been on a mission to help Life + Work Fit better together, and with COVID plus the new education environment we’re all in, this is more critical than ever. Having first-hand experience with the problem we’re solving is both a blessing and a curse – we’re a team of women, mostly moms, who intimately understand how this feels. However, oftentimes we have to step away from our work duties to take care of our kids or personal obligations, and balancing those two things is definitely difficult. But this is a challenge we are not backing down from, and we continue to be committed to figuring out how to solve this – one step at a time.
This post, while cathartic to write, has one purpose – working parent who is juggling all the things along with the myriad emotions from guilt to exhaustion to anger to sadness – I see you. We see you. It’s ok that you’re not doing ok – neither am I. But we’re going to get through this together – we’re committed to being there for working parents through this pandemic/crazy school & work schedule and beyond.