Parenting & Work during Covid

Parent Q&A

Need help creating an office in a small home Jul 25, 2020 (7 responses below)
Couples counseling online? May 29, 2020 (4 responses below)
Working with young kids while sheltering in place Apr 18, 2020 (23 responses below)
  • Question for parents who are also students  (community college or university) -- how is your school supporting you?

    Do you all know if UC Berkeley, City College, CS Hayward, etc. are offering any expanded resources for students who are parents at this time?  ... in light of the additional stress/time dedicated to homeschooling their kids?  (Yup, I'm calling "online school" homeschooling ;-)  I'm asking because I'm currently in a grad program (online) and am really struggling ... I need a 1 semester extension to complete coursework because I am taking care of my 3 small kids -- no childcare -- while in school full time.  The college is refusing to grant extensions or provide any resources for student parents ... and I can't fathom how that is possible.  My situation is not unique; surely other universities have figured out ways to help?  I understand that budgets are strapped, so I'm not referring to financial assistance (I already used up all my financial aid on tuition) ... rather, I'm curious about policies that could help students during this time while they are taking care of their loved ones -- small children, aging parents, or anyone who is ill from COVID.  This is information I can use to make recommendations to my department chair.  I am also reaching out to friends at various universities, but will not cite anyone's names or even the university names; rather, I'm looking for examples of policies that are helping students who are precariously straddling family care / full course loads / COVID-19 / (and also perhaps working).  Thank you!

    You can find information about how UC Berkeley is supporting students with accommodations and other resources at There is a link specifically for graduate students.

    Hi There,

    I'm so sorry you're struggling and that your school is not being more supportive.

    I work with students at UC Berkeley and student parents is one of the demographics I focus on within my department. This is a new focus for me, so I am still learning.

    UC Berkeley has made this new website for families: Some options are going down to part-time status (which undergrads may do in normal circumstances, this seems like a new option for grad students though) and helping with childcare including connecting with each other to find pods. As it takes students longer to finish when they go to part-time status, additional semesters are almost always approved (again, I'm talking from an undergrad advisor point of view, but it's just common sense that it would take students more time, if they're only taking 1-2 classes/semester).

    I created a Slack page for student parents in my department so that they could connect with each other more easily. It's a space for them to share resources, vent, find study partners, etc. Our semester has not yet begun, but the page is starting to have more action and the student seem to appreciate the space already. You could create a page and invite your classmates with children to join. If nothing else, support from each other is incredibly important. Slack is free and easy to use.

    Best of luck to you. I have a son and am working from home and it is so difficult, even with some help from family.

  • I might be dreaming of a solution that doesn’t exist...

    Since SIP started, I have tried working at the dining table, putting a folding table in the hallway, and backyard. None of it is ideal and being distracted constantly. Spouse is using the plus room as his office. We tried sharing that office but it didn’t work because we are both on conference calls constantly. Both parents in the smallest room in the house means kids also try to cram in there. kids are young enough that they want to “work” where parents are. We have a small basement space but one parent working in the basement is grossly unfair to the other parent on the main floor with kids. But, the mom (me) that works at the dining table ends up being the magnet for kids. I have to keep telling them to go ask dad but that simple interruption is killing me. Also, the dining table is constantly cluttered with kid stuff which makes it hard to concentrate on work.

    Kids have a desk but they want to work with parents...

    I think I need my own workspace — a proper desk, lamp, and a door to shut when needed. 

    I have a few ideas but I think I need a bit of professional help to clear junk, organize stuff, and reimagine the existing space and help procure and set up office furniture/equipment. We don’t have a lot of money but I desperately need to find a way to carve out my own space. I am miserable trying to work from the dining table while staring at kid debri. 

    House is small and each bedroom is just big enough for a king size bed and a dresser.  (2+ room, ~1500 sq ft. It has quite of unusable space because the hallway is oddly large. We are not looking to remodel or do construction. 

    If you know an interior designer who also helps with organizing and setting up a home office or a professional organizer who helps with home office set up and has interior design background, please let me know. I hope to achieve all of this within $2000 or less budget which includes a desk and lamp purchase. 

    I suggest you swap your king-size bed for a queen and put a small desk in the bedroom. You need to be able to work behind a closed door sometimes.

    This may not be ideal, but my mom did her entire master's program working from a little office set up in the small hallway coat closet. And it was so cozy, once she was done after 2 years we all used it. To set up a table, she painted wood square plank thingy and rested it on wood strips nailed in the walls, so the height was perfect for her and the chair. I know it's not the ideal office but she was so tucked away we didn't even notice her when she was in there. This closet was something like 2.5 ft x 2.5 ft. Then later she moved her sewing machine in there and surprisingly that worked too. Not sure if this will work for your situation but just to help look outside of the box.  

    I just got out of the dining room. Take it from me - you need to get out of the dining room! 

    It sounds like from your post that you have two workable spaces - the basement and the plus room. Have you considered alternating who gets what room either by day or on a morning / afternoon schedule? That will force the kids to bug the parent in the plus room because the parent in the basement won’t be available. That might even out your “go ask dad” issue.

    Regarding desks, the IKEA sit / stand desk is affordable and ergonomically great. I’m not sure how it will stand the test of time, but it’s high enough quality to make it through a few years. I highly recommend it.

  • Couples counseling online?

    (4 replies)

    I'm looking for recommendations for a couples counselor who does meetings online (because of social distancing). Things were frequently difficult before the lockdown, but job loss, being trapped together (with the kiddo) in a small house, and all the rest of it has made things nearly unbearable, and we need help. Strong preference for a male therapist (deep, unacknowledged sexism is one of our problems). It's going to be a divorce boom when all this is over, and I'd really, really don't want to be part of that statistic.

    RE: Couples counseling online? ()

    Hi, I completely am with you in that SIP has made marriage much tougher. I have even mentioned the word divorce in the heat of the moment of an argument when I was feeling emotional and angry. I happened to see online that couples institute counseling services was offering a free 20 minute virtual consultation with a counselor and signed up for that. They give you different options of counselors in your area based on your needs. One of the male counselors they gave me was Robert solley. you can read his bio online. I never ended up pursuing counseling bc it seemed expensive at $390 for 90 minutes and also things seemed to be improving and cooled off between my husband and I while he has been gone and I'm solo parenting

    RE: Couples counseling online? ()

    Van Metaxas would be perfect for this.  My wife and I did serious work with him over Zoom during the start of shelter in place, after having worked with him in person for a while.  As the male partner I found him very helpful.  Google him for contact information.  

    RE: Couples counseling online? ()

    May I recommend any of the male psychologists at Bridge Therapy Center, all of whom, I believe, are working with couples via video.

    Wishing you the best of luck.

  • I am exhausted and completely overwhelmed. I was on the phone with a single friend without a child who blissfully said, “Don’t you just love working from home?” I wanted to kill her. I calmly said, “No. This is so hard. This is impossible. I am reaching a breaking point.”

    I recognize that we are much luckier than many. While our pay has been reduced by 50%, we are still working and have health insurance and have a little bit of savings to last us 3 months. I run a small business and took a 75% pay cut while working my butt off without pay right now in order to avoid laying off our small team for the time being. My spouse is also working full time from home. I am truly hustling to keep my small new business afloat while my spouse also puts in his 110% to try to keep his job that provides health insurance for the entire family. My spouse is pretty low on the totem poll at work and we are worried about his job security.

    We have no way of staggering our work days to watch the kids. We are both on conference calls most of the day to fight for our jobs. 

    In the meantime, kids are being ignored with their brains rotting away in front of TV. They spend 5-6 hours a day in front of screen (TV and games). I am crying. I know this is not good for them. But we have to work. It will be worse if we lose our house and can’t afford food.

    I tried to get my kids to do online class. They refused. They want a parent to do things with them. I ask them to do worksheets that we spent hours sifting through and put together. They resist and want us to check their work after every page.

    I ask the older one to take the little one and play outside. The little one wants to play with mommy. Daddy or sister won’t do and scream for mommy.

    I had to buckle down and tried to get that PPP loan application in. It’s survival mode. I let kids cry and had to ignore them. I see them curling up in bed sobbing with their loveys. 

    Little one asks if I can take a break and play with him. I couldn’t as I was going into a call to pitch to a potential client that could be the difference between my business making the payroll or start laying off people. My little one cried and a bit later I hear him asking Alexa to tell him a joke as I try to sell to a potential client. My heart broke into million pieces.

    My kids have been doing a bit better since I started getting up early to work, limit day time work to urgent inquiries and calls, and then work more from 9 pm - 1 am. But, I am now a walking zombie and this is not sustainable. Our business operates during the day, so I still have to be available and do lots of calls during the day. 

    Juggling work and kids has always been an impossible task. With the pandemic, now it’s super charged impossibility. Parents will succumb to mental health crisis. 

    Our house has not been dusted or vacuumed for a month. I barely keep the kitchen and bathroom clean. With money being short, I am also cooking all of our meals. 

    I know there is no answer. I am hoping to hear from others that we are not alone. I would like to see more parents speaking up and sharing the struggle. 

    You are 100 percent not alone! Things aren't even as dire for me as they are for you, and I'm still going completely bonkers, dying for this insane situation to end. Because I'd already been laid off and was working freelance before the shutdown happened, I have now taken over daytime childcare and "distance learning" for my kindergartner. Fortunately my spouse's job is unaffected and we can survive on one income. Unfortunately, that means I feel really alone in all of this and a lot of pressure to let my spouse work long hours uninterrupted.

    Please do not beat yourself up for relying on screens to get your work done. Were I working my old job right now I'd be doing the exact same thing. The idea that little kids can just plop themselves in front of a computer and do online school all day is a complete joke. I can't even believe that that's the answer our government and school boards have come up with. Maybe for junior high and older that's a reasonable option -- but the under 10 set? Really? I understand that in extreme emergencies schools must close, but the focus should be on how to make up days once school reopens. As your post has demonstrated it is not reasonable to expect parents to suddenly provide an alternative school with no warning and without being able to get any help at all. Even grandma and grandpa are out! I know many people who homeschool by choice, and none of them do so in total isolation.

    It sounds like you are handling an awful situation as well as can be expected. The only thing I can suggest is finding another family in which the parent(s) work can more feasibly be done at off hours and you can quarantine yourselves together and trade off watching the kids. I'm suggesting that because it doesn't sound like you are in a high-risk group, and obviously the second family would need to be low risk as well. That suggestion may not be what our county health advisors want, but the longer this drags on with no announced end date the more people will end up doing things like that to survive.

    Please cut yourself some slack. I truly wish I could give you a hug.

    You are not alone! There are a ton of us out here doing this impossible juggle! I am so grateful to have this time at home with my almost 2 year old, but the stress it's causing on my work (also a small business owner pushing extremely hard right now) is immense. I think we all need to give ourselves carte blanche to do whatever it takes to get things done and refuse any associated guilt. This is not how we wanted to raise our kids right now, but they'll survive. We all will, and maybe they'll emerge a little more independent as a result. This is temporary. It will come to an end and we will have a return to help and schedules. In the meantime, just one day at a time, and lots of deep breaths. 

    I want to also echo that you are not alone!  And it made me feel like I wasn't alone reading your post and the other reply, so thank you for putting it out there. I have a 3 year old and I'm working full-time from home while my husband also works full-time at a low-wage food production job as an essential worker.  I'm nervous every day he comes home that he'll bring back COVID-19 with him.  In order to work from home, I have to sit my toddler in front of the TV for 5-6 hours a day too.  Every time I sit at my desk, she pulls at me and begs me to play with her and not work, but I have to keep telling her to watch TV or look at our tablet, or I end up taking a break to play with her and then work 10:00pm-1:00am.  It's breaking my heart and I'm feeling like a failure as a mother and an employee because I can't be as efficient and she's getting so much screen time, and I'm just plain exhausted.  There's no other family that I can quarantine together with, so we'll be in this situation for the long-haul. But just reminding myself that others are in the same boat and to cut myself some slack does help.  Hang in there - sending you another hug.