Moms always have a hard job, but COVID-19 has made it tougher.
With kids at home because of online learning, some have had to quit jobs or cut back hours. Some have had to turn to childcare, which not only can be costly but also hard to find. Some have had to rely on grandparents, who are at the more vulnerable stage of catching the disease. Even stay-at-home mothers and those who have been able to work from home have had to take on the challenge of being part-time teachers.
It’s been a struggle for Chelsea Ramsey, a part-time intensive care nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Neither she or her husband Clint, who owns Blue Canary Auto, can work from home. Chelsea is pregnant and due in June. They also have fifth- and second-graders, along with a toddler.
“We’ve kind of limped through to tell you the truth. Adding one more thing about broke everybody,” she said, adding she came close to quitting her job last fall.
She said she’s very involved with her children, and, “They need a lot of attention with their schooling.”
Because her husband owns his business, he’s been able to change his hours. “He’s the Friday parent,” Chelsea said.
His shop is only open four days a week now, which his seven employees like because they have more time with their families.
Chelsea said her 66-year-old mom lives with them, “which is huge. I don’t know anybody can do this without family.”
To protect grandma, Chelsea said they are very strict about who their kids can see and what they do.
“They haven’t gone anywhere,” she said, adding grandma is still nervous. “We can do everything right and still bring the virus home.”
Chelsea said she thinks teachers have done an incredible job online, “All of their energy and patience.” She doubts she could homeschool on her own – “Kids are terrible with their parents” – but working with their teachers, “I can trust the kids will be pushed on a daily basis. It’s hard to get a kid to crank out that much work.”
Still, because her kids are so young she said they’ve struggled. So she’s glad at-school learning has started up.
“They worked so hard they deserved it,” she said. “It was their turn to be able to go see what the world is like.”
Chelsea said the am/pm cohort are effective with small class sizes.
“They are besides themselves,” she said of her kids. “The first week they were tearing into their book bag” to do their homework.
She said her kids are even getting along better.
“They had not been separated for a year, then they got a break from each other,” she said.
Chelsea said she doesn’t mind that school is just 2 1/2 hours.
“That’s good enough for them and me,” she said, adding she now gets quality time with her 2-year-old.
And her second-grader even said, “We didn’t really need that many snack breaks, lunches and recess.”
Chelsea has mixed emotions about the big picture. She said it’s tragic what’s happened to businesses and parents who can’t cope, as in the rise in domestic violence.
On the other hand it’s been a triumph to come up with vaccines in a year, and so many people working from home has been great for the environment.
“The view from the ferry – the skies are always clear; the pollution is gone.”
A single parent with 6-year-old twins, Marjorie LeMaster also has had her fair share of struggles.
Her girls were supposed to start all-day kindergarten, giving her parents who provide child care a break.
“Luckily I was able to work from home at that time,” she said, adding the Aquatic Center was shut down). “When I did need to come to work I was able to bring them to a camp the EOC was running through the park district.”
Now, she works mornings so she can be home when her girls are done with school. Her parents still help with schoolwork in the morning and drive them to school.
“I pick them up and take over from there,” she said.
LeMaster is so thankful her parents can help as child care would cost $2,000 a month.
“Child care was crazy expensive and hard to get into before COVID” when there already were waiting lists, she said.
She’s heard from others that when child care facilities were able to open after COVID closures that they had trouble getting back in and cost had gone up a lot.
LeMaster said her parents have been concerned about the coronavirus.
“I am happy they have been able to get their first vaccine,” she said.
As for her girls, they are happy to be in school.
“Kindergarten Zoom was a drag for them,” she said. “They were starting to hate school and not wanting to participate.”
During distance learning, the grandparents did Zoom with them in the morning, while mom helped with asynchronous work in the afternoon.
“My girls are now back in person and loving it,” she said. “Now, they can’t wait to go.”