Gasping For Air: Parenting & Working During COVID-19

I should start this off by stating I am writing this article close to midnight less than 36 hours before its being published for you to read.  It's usually around this time I find that I finally have time to breathe now that all our lives have been turned upside and inside out by COVID-19.  But, first and foremost, I am fortunate that my family and my team are all safe and healthy, and we are indebted to those fighting this pandemic for us on the front lines.

With the whole world seemingly in unfettered chaos, I guess it's no surprise that I find myself more exhausted by my days than ever before.  But my life has been hectic for as long as I can remember:  I am a single parent to a now-almost 11 year old, I run three growing women-owned businesses, including Griesing Law, I volunteer for various non-profits and to add to my already full plate, I am in law school.  However, none of that has prepared me for parenting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Between scrambling to understand the new laws protecting employees during COVID-19, untangling and processing the enigma of the ever-elusive Paycheck Protection Program, while continuing to oversee the daily operations of three businesses, it's no wonder that something had to give somewhere or I wasn't going to survive to the end of March, let alone until the summer.  Working 10-12 hours a day for the last few weeks has become my new normal so much so that I am not sure what life will be like once we return to any sense of normalcy after COVID-19.  As I mentioned before, I'm currently in law school, which is already a huge undertaking with lots of classwork on any given day.  While I am lucky that the semester switched to pass/fail, it's difficult to focus on my own education when I need to remain steadfast and focused on my daughter's education and wellbeing.

My daughter's "last" day of fifth grade was March 11th.  She has experienced a lot this year - starting a new school in September as a fifth-grader, and then finally moving into our new house a few days before Christmas.  She has been quick to make new friends and is pumped for middle school, which can already induce anxiety in young kids.  Most parents can agree when I say, those first two weeks of quarantine were hard on both of us: endless requests to hang out with friends, visit family, go to Target, plus being hungry all the time, then not being hungry for what I managed to cook.  This "routine" went on every day for two weeks.  And bedtime? What's bedtime for a 10 year old who thinks she's "on vacation" and can stay up way past her regular bedtime because she thinks "school's over for the year."  She has two Zoom calls per day, four days a week, on top of her schoolwork. It's been a challenge to find a way to ensure she is still learning and remaining engaged with her studies while simultaneously trying to keep up with my own assignments and oversee my businesses.

For instance, today, I had a conference call scheduled for the exact time my daughter was starting her second online class of her school day.  With the Zoom security concerns, last week her school district switched from Zoom to Google Meet for all of its online schoolings.  Needless to say, the conversion didn't happen smoothly, and I was late to my call as I was trying to get her link to connect so she could participate.  My daughter was flustered and embarrassed for having gotten to class "late," and I was just as worked up by the time my call started.  Despite what occurred, today was still a good day. It took me a few minutes to regain my composure and stop my mind from spinning before taking my call.  Fast forward to now as I began writing this, and shortly after my daughter went to sleep - late I may add, I spend some time catching up on school work that has long been left behind.

Although life right now is not ideal when it comes to our personal and professional lives, we will eventually get through this.  We will do our part to flatten the curve and provide any support we can to those on the front lines even from a distance.  We are thankful to our teachers for continuing to educate our children under these uncanny circumstances.  And because we all need a little relatable humor during times like these, I saw a social media posting the other day that made me laugh because whether you are married, single or have kids this should make you giggle just a little:  My wife and I play this fun game during quarantine, it's called "Why Are You Doing It That Way?" and there are no winners.

I am learning every day what I can and can't do and most importantly, I am learning to accept that it's ok if I'm gasping for air, and to then just take a breath.