Parents face new challenges with school, work and home


Photo Courtesy of Johnny Peppo

DSA staff member Lorraine Peppo puts her 2-year-old son, Jacob, down for a nap as she also works from home remotely. Many faculty, staff and students of the university are finding themselves unexpectedly juggling parental duties at the same time they attempt to manage academic or professional responsibilities from home.

As many continue to face changes in their daily routines, much of the campus population must now learn to balance work and home life differently.

Many teachers and students at the university have children of various ages who are also experiencing the temporary closures of schools due to the pandemic. How do these parents simultaneously and remotely manage their jobs, their coursework and their children’s education?

LaTasha Baker, a senior communication major, explained how her husband helps her when it comes to balancing work, classes and keeping up with their son’s education.

“Although I prefer on-campus classes, I am a full-time employee; therefore, most of my classes are online,” explained Baker.  “I do have a 12-year-old at home, but I have a wonderful husband who assists him with his virtual learning while I continue with my courses as well as work remotely from home.”

Baker shared an upside and downside to having more time at home than usual.

“The positive is that we’re spending more time together, but the negative is that children are easily bored so they have to be kept busy, which is challenging while working and going to school remotely from home,” said Baker.

The pandemic is directly affecting some families. Senior English education major Kimberly Cox described the added stress of having to balance online coursework while helping with her grandchild and her teenage son.

“My daughter, who normally works three jobs, is not working at all and is calling mom to help with her stressful situation,” explained Cox. “My high school son was working an essential job until Monday when someone at his job tested positive. Now, we are both in a full 100% quarantine.”

Cox expressed how she is ready for the stress of the semester and the current circumstances to come to an end.

“Dealing with a teenager who is used to going and doing something every day, whether it’s work, school or friends, is yet another stress,” said Cox. “The end of the semester and the end of the pandemic cannot come soon enough.”

Stephanie Welch, an instructor of earth and space science, described the difficulties of having to work remotely and splitting the responsibilities with her husband.

“It has been difficult,” shared Welch. “My husband and I alternate shifts with the kids, and I try to concentrate on my work in the early morning and nap time when the two-year-old is asleep.”

Welch explained what homeschooling tools she has implemented to make sure her kids keep up with learning.

“My kids are two and six, Iris and Felix, so the homeschooling is mainly concentrated on the six-year-old, Felix, in first grade,” said Welch. “I have him reading a book chapter and describing it to me and doing some math work through apps on his tablet.”

She shared how getting to spend more time with her kids has been positive, as well as a negative aspect of the newly found free time.

“I love the extra time with them, but they are both used to having my undivided attention when we’re all home, so it’s difficult to tell them that I need to work too,” explained Welch.

Welch shared her advice for anyone home with children during the current situation.

“I would tell them that no one is at their best right now,” urged Welch. “We all need to prioritize what is important and let go of the over-the-top expectations that we have of ourselves. This time definitely calls for a ‘let’s just get through this in one piece’ strategy.”