VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Many parents are struggling to deal with work, home-schooling and all the stresses associated with family during social isolation.
While coping can be tough for a family with two parents right now, Kristen Keighley-Wight is doing it solo with a one-year-old and a five-year-old.
Her day starts very early, checking in remotely with work before getting her young kids up and going, and then juggling everything through the day while trying to meet basic expectations.
“It’s crazy right now,” Keighley-Wight tells NEWS 1130. “I get up early and I check email early in the day so that I know what’s coming at me and can kind of anticipate what I should be organizing while I make breakfast for the kids and get them dressed. Then, I head into my day and try and be as available as possible through the day. I have kids asking for snacks and the baby crying by me, and I have to take breaks to sing my little one down for her nap time and then try to get as much done if possible.”
She’ll sit through meetings at her kitchen table and take breaks as necessary to care for her children, but once they’re fed dinner and are asleep for the night, Keighley-Wight’s right back on her email, trying to ensure she’s caught up on the work-front. “Because I am a single mom and just trying to manage it all right now.”
She says parents are good at talking about the stresses with each other, but notes the conversation isn’t being had as much in the workplace. Keighley-Wight adds her colleagues have been “really great” and understanding of her need for flexibility. She says they’ve also gotten used to an occasional child cameo in work virtual meetings.
“But, it’s a challenge for all these parents, and we’re all in different scenarios right now, so having a little bit of understanding that all of us are dealing with different pieces in different ways, and different challenges through this crisis. It’s really important to just be mindful as we move through it,” she explains.
“It would be a conversation that would be really helpful to be starting to have within workplaces about what it means, and what the expectations are. While people are very considerate and mindful once you bring it up, it’s not necessarily a conversation that’s well enough had at this point.”
She admits guilt is a big problem, but says parents need to give themselves space to own the fact it’s tough and that they’re doing the best they can right now.
If your kids are watching a little too much tv, or can’t manage to make a lavish meal, Keighley-Wight says don’t be too hard on yourself.
“Guilt is a huge factor and I, personally, try and make up for it,” Keighley-Wight says. “On the weekends, we bake muffins, I taught my son to ride his bike, and I try and make extra efforts to be additionally engaged with the kids through this. But guilt is a huge factor as we’re all, kind of collectively, not living our best lives, or what we would consider that right now.”
-With files from Ash Kelly