Elise Cote says creating a detailed, structured schedule helped her family balance a new reality without school or daycare amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Elise Cote)

Elise Cote says creating a detailed, structured schedule helped her family balance a new reality without school or daycare amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Elise Cote)

Balancing kids and work: Greater Victoria parents grapple with a new COVID-19 reality

Parents working from home juggle kids and jobs

With schools, day cares and work spaces closed to curb the spread of COVID-19, working parents across the world are grappling with the new reality of home life colliding full force with their jobs.

Elise Cote has been working from home since March 11. COVID-19 cases started rising in B.C. just weeks after Cote’s one and a half-year-old daughter was hospitalized for pneumonia, and Cote decided to pull her daughter and six-year-old son from day care and school, just a few days before schools were shut down province-wide.

Cote, who works for the federal government, said the first few days were the most difficult.

“The first little bit was incredibly hard,” she recalled. “There was a lot of, having to leave them crying and locking myself in a room so I could finish a phone conversation, which was hard on me and hard on them.”

READ ALSO: Talk to your kids about COVID-19: here’s how

At first, she spent most of the day focusing on her kids and then working into the night, often until 2 or 3 a.m.

“I’d put the kids to bed, make a cup of coffee and then go sit down and start working,” she said. “I was happier and feeling more stable working in the night, but I knew I could only do that for two weeks maximum and then I’d burn out.”

Elise Cote is one of many parents working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cote, like others, had to find creative ways to create structure and balance when her work life and home life collided. (Courtesy of Elise Cote)

Things are easier for Cote now that her husband is home too, but she says a big game changer was creating a detailed, daily schedule that included time for both work and play.

“From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed there’s that structure,” she said. We’re dealing with so much anxiety and so many emotions and trying to cope with so much change. We need to eliminate some of that uncertainty.”

Cote also takes small chunks of time throughout the day to give her kids her full attention.

“It helps to give them your entire focus often – put the phone down, close the computer and play for five minutes,” she said.

Massoud Moslehi, a Victoria-based mental health clinician and therapist, says that anxiety is very real for families, and requires parents to be flexible, both with themselves and with their kids.

“The core of this is understanding and being flexible,” he said. “What is needed is for employers to really have that confidence and trust in people in this very difficult and abnormal time, and that will help employees adopt the same attitude and become more flexible with their kids.”

Moslehi said parents should be open to taking breaks to connect with their children.

“It carries a lot of weight when we sit with our kids for 10 or 15 minutes,” he said. “It creates that emotional connection and that’s exactly how we will survive this whole thing.”

While teacher resources, virtual tours and other programs are available online, the government has issued benefits to provide relief for parents.

Single parents, those who are unable to work from home, or parents overwhelmed with juggling both responsibilities can access Canada’s new Emergency Response Benefit. The taxable benefit of up to $2,000 per month is not just for those who have been laid off, but also for working parents who have to stay home, without pay, to care for their children.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Keeping their distance will help keep your kids healthy



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusParenting

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, development agent for cannabis supplier Seed and Stone’s, holds products from the new Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

Steven Manchur, who lives near the proposed site of supportive housing in Central Saanich on Prosser Road, said the province has misinformed the public about the site. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich residents protest supportive housing project

BC Housing rejects claim that project will lead to more crime

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

A convicted sex offender, whose crimes included offences against children, was arrested at Gonzales Beach after the man was spotted by an off-duty officer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Convicted sex offender arrested at Gonzales Beach

After committing crimes involving children, offender barred from public beaches, being in proximity to kids

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read