McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, reported that 15 million Americans have quit their jobs since April 2021, and just nearly two years into the pandemic parents and caregivers have faced numerous challenges trying to balance work and children’s needs. Now, with some schools going virtual for a short term as COVID-19 cases rise, working parents are increasingly responsible for continuing to juggle their own health concerns, along with pediatric health-related issues, winter illnesses and more as one in three Michiganders have contracted the virus, according to reports.
All of these challenges are leading to burnout among working parents and many are looking to their employers, and others, to help address these challenges.
Detroit resident LaToya Sturges, mother of two children (one in kindergarten and one in second grade), told the Michigan Chronicle that currently she is working from home and her kids are attending school virtually.
“When the school year started this year, they were in the building — but it’s been lots of ups and downs,” Sturges said adding that she tried to keep things as “stable as possible” in an ever-changing society. “Even if they’re not in the building we’re still doing school at home,” Sturges said adding that she keeps up with her children’s school work and both of her sons are ahead of their classmates.
The School District of the City of Pontiac employee said that both of her sons go to school in the school district and her work situation also fluctuated. At the start of the pandemic she worked from home, switched to hybrid, then went back to working at home.
“I do I like working from home — I can focus a little bit better,” she said adding that as a single parent it’s not always easy to juggle responsibilities and overlapping duties such as work and personal life, but she makes it happen. “This is not as easy as I thought. this is a lot more work emotionally making sure I’m good, they’re good. So, I put all of us in therapy just to make sure that everybody is doing okay.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed tips to help families cope during these ever-changing times including:
- Take social media breaks.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco and substance use.
- Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online through social media, or by phone or mail.
- Take care of yourself to better equip yourself to take care of others.
“I use therapy as a tool to better communicate; make sure everybody [is] doing good and healthy in all aspects,” she said adding that the biggest challenge is making sure everyone stays active and healthy, too. “Going outside is just not fun for me.”
Sturges added that therapy is a good tool because she is fixing any potential problems now.
“Anything that could damage them in the future I want to look at it now — I don’t want two angry kids looking at me … I want them happy, healthy in all aspects,” she said adding that being physically healthy includes being fully vaccinated and taking vitamins.
Sturges said that what made the pandemic difficult is not knowing when it will be over among other stressors, but like so many other millions of parents in the pandemic, she forges ahead and gets it done every day.
“Overall, I’m okay and my kids are okay with being at home,” she said, adding that she encourages parents to be fine, too, in the future for their overall well-being. “Make sure you as a parent reach out to other parents [to lean on] and keep talking and stay patient and prayed up because it does get hard. It really does.”