PANDEMIC PARENTING – When Truth is Stranger Than Fiction…

Whitney Fogg, Director of Human Resources, shares her very real (and often hilarious) trials and tribulations of pandemic parenting.

Published on May 1, 2020

Whitney writes from her pseudo workspace at home

I have been a stay at home mom… I have been a working mom… I have been a sometime working-from-home mom. Never ever have I ever been a working-from-home-while-homeschooling, social-distancing, short-order cooking, mask-making, not-toilet-paper-hoarding, pandemic-surviving mom.

Whitney Fogg is the Director of Human Resources at the Children’s Museum. She is the mother of three raucous children and two badly behaved cats.

The days have somehow turned into months and I don’t know how I’m doing it. I don’t know how any of us are doing whatever it is we’ve had to accomplish, because this is tough stuff. I understand some of us – many of us – have it really, really bad right now. I’m fortunate to have a job, and I’m fortunate to be healthy. However, I can’t help but ponder my new bizarre reality: what it’s like to attempt to work while teaching three children and maintaining my sanity.

So far, I have experienced three distinct Pandemic Parenting phases…

Phase One: Planning & Organizing

Ideas were flying left and right on social media and I dutifully downloaded daily schedule suggestions and lists of educational websites. I was excited about virtual museum tours and live readings. I printed worksheets and lesson plans to supplement the “learning packet” the kids brought home from school. I was pumped –we were going to achieve so much together! This was going to be sort of fun (I probably needed to spend more time with my kids). We would take this opportunity to learn new skills. We would have a successful routine. And this was only going to last until Spring Break. I was certainly capable of anything for a couple of weeks.

Then we entered…

Stage Two: Execution

The first day of no school aka “home school” went well. The kids were fairly engaged and interested to follow the new routine. We signed up for free trials on some educational websites. They read virtual books and played virtual math games. We went for a walk.

It wasn’t bad… maybe I had a knack for this. Unfortunately, I had neglected one small detail: I still had to work in the midst of all this.

No problem!  I could just flex my work schedule around their “academic time.” This worked great for the second day of school. Then, the Zoom calls took over and the work became consumptive. The “learning packet” became difficult to manage.

No problem! I ordered some workbooks and gave them assignments they could complete on their own. We altered the schedule a bit. We were doing okay. I was still somewhat capable of this short term assignment.

Now we have entered…

Phase Three: Mayhem

No one is wearing pants. I’m fairly certain my nine-year-old hasn’t brushed his teeth since March. The kids sleep ALL the time, and I’m ok with that because when they’re awake, they’re eating. My grocery bill has become a mortgage.

I ordered ear buds so I can completely ignore everyone while on work calls, during which a child will inevitably need something very important right now… like a cup of water. We lost one of the workbooks. I threw away the “learning packets.” There’s an entire bottle of nail polish spilled on a rug. There’s glitter slime smeared on the sofa. They’re now probably playing at some never-before-achieved expert level of Fortnite. I no longer feel capable.

In fact, I’m positive that I am failing.

But am I? These are unprecedented times with a pretty limited playbook. Maybe it’s ok that my house has dissolved into chaos. Maybe it’s enough that some days all I can do is feed my children and complete my work. Maybe it’s time to lower my expectations and be kinder to myself.

One day – who knows when, but hopefully soon – we’ll look back on this and wonder how we survived. For me, I think survival will mean allowing myself space for failure and perspective to find the hidden successes.

Here are some resources that Whitney found helpful. We hope they’ll help you too!