“Mom, when is lunch going to be ready? Mom, I need help with this lesson. Mom, please tell her to get out of my room. Mom, I have to do this science project, please help.”
This is the new norm. Parents across the country are trying to homeschool their kids while working. During Zoom calls, parents will mute their conversation to answer their children’s questions, get lunch ready, and change diapers.
Ask many parents how it’s going, and they’ll say that it’s extremely challenging. Their work is barely getting done and they are pretty much trying to keep their kids alive.
I am one of those parents.
I’m a single mom of three girls, a business owner, fill-in news anchor, and contributor. I’m doing everything to stay afloat. Like many small business owners, I’ve lost clients, but I’m grateful for the ones that I have.
I can’t anchor the news because the studio is in New York, and my home is in Massachusetts with my daughters. Like everyone else, I’m figuring out how to change my business model and adjust to this new “normal.”
I’m trying to stay relevant as a small businesswoman while maintaining my priorities as a mom, and now a homeschool teacher.
The chaos is real.
I have had good days and some really lousy days. I get up early and do everything that the self-help experts tell you to do. I exercise, eat healthy, and I try to get enough sleep. But there are days that I feel like a failure – in every aspect, I can’t catch up. I can’t get ahead. I can’t accomplish much.
On the lousy days, I feel like I can’t ever catch up, or get ahead.
But I know that I’m not alone.
A friend recently asked me to write an opinion piece to share tips on how to navigate through this “new normal” as both a single mom and a small business owner. At first, I wasn’t sure that I was up to the task. But here I am.
We all want answers, and we all worry about the same things. Will I have my job next month? Could I find a new job? How do I keep my business from closing its doors? How will I ever pay all these bills? Some have even made the difficult decision to lay people off. Others have had to close down their businesses altogether.
In between teenage breakdowns and confiscating phones so the kids would stay off TickTok in order to do their schoolwork, I thought about what we can all do to maintain our sanity during these difficult and challenging times. Now, I’m not saying that you won’t spend a few times in your bathroom crying (like I do), but there are a few things that we can do to get through this quarantine in one piece.
Stop comparing yourself to other mom’s on social media
I’m not saying to stay off social media because sometimes that is our escape. But, pick who you follow wisely. I have had to stop following some mom’s because in my eyes, they are too perfect. They literally love teaching their kids and make their entire day based around homeschooling their children. And they have all the time in the world. We all have certain gifts in life, and teaching my children is not one of them.
I don’t like to exercise, but I force myself to do it. It not only helps me physically but it’s really good for me mentally. My daughter Addison, a gymnast, came up with a 23-minute ab workout for us to do. I honestly think she just wanted to see me in pain, but it was great that she led our class and we worked out together. And in case you are wondering, I was in pain.
Sometimes it works and other times it does not, but I do believe that kids crave consistency, just like adults. But when everything is all over the place it is a challenge to do this. Here’s what has worked for me.
My kids create their own schedules, including when they will do their school assignments, and when they will have free time and TV time. I’ve also made it a rule that the TV or a device does not go on until they have started their lessons. I try to get them going first thing in the morning, but it’s not always easy when I have early morning client calls.
And I know a lot of families facing this very same issue. We only have two computers in our home for a family of four, so we have to schedule laptop time as well.
Be easy on yourself
Manage expectations, including your own. We’re all in this together. Do what you can, and don’t be hard on yourself. We have enough to worry about as it is – don’t add any more stress.
I’m not a mental health expert or coach, I’m simply a single working mom. I certainly don’t have all the answers, nor have it all together, but who does? Anyone that says they do are not being truthful.
This pause has forced a lot of change. Our lives have changed. Our businesses have changed. Our family life has changed. The world has changed. But despite it all, I’m blessed to have healthy children, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.