Work, child care, home school: How do parents juggle it all during COVID-19?

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With COVID-19, businesses have shuttered, Angelenos are working from home, and school has gone virtual. Millions of students have transitioned from the classroom to the living room. Screen time limits, scheduled extracurriculars and strict food restrictions have all gone out the window. 

What does that mean for parents? How do they juggle jobs and paying bills while keeping kids fed, dressed and schooled? What about housework, keeping the peace with their partner, and maintaining their physical and mental health? 

We talk with four LA parents about their frustrations, pressures, and coping tactics during COVID-19. 

Nicole Lawson's family is stuck at home during the pandemic. She works while her 5 year old does homework in the same space. She also has to care for her 3 year old and newborn baby. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lawson.

Nicole Lannoy Lawson is a mom of three, including a newborn baby. 

“Right now I’ve got my work computer, a baby in my lap, a glass of wine in the other hand. I share my workspace with my 5 year old, who’s also trying to do homework in the same space. My 3 year old runs around in his pull-up. My husband tries to help. It’s a lot,” she says.

Matt Jourdian with his wife and 2 year old along the Venice Canals. He says they mostly still have the same life routine as before COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Matt Jourdain.

Matt Jourdian is the father of a 2 year old. His family’s nanny continues to work for the family everyday to help with childcare, while both he and his wife work full-time. Since the pandemic, life has allowed much of the same routine as before. 

“We have our nanny come through, and we kind of still play the same routine. Hey, we’re going to work. Then we just sort of retire to the bedroom and work on the bed, elbow to elbow, my wife and I,” he says.

Stacey Wiren has to take care of her daughter while trying to work. She says juggling everything is intense. Photo courtesy of Stacey Wiren. 

Stacey Wiren shares custody of her daughter with her ex-husband, who is considered an ‘essential worker’ during COVID-19. Wiren has taken on the brunt of childcare for their daughter since. She says life has been brutal.  

“I had a Zoom meeting yesterday, where my daughter decided to get undressed in the background,” she says. “It’s really three full-time jobs: parenting, homeschooling and working. … So trying to juggle those all at once has been pretty intense.” 

Wiren says her schedule won’t be sustainable for herself or her daughter. “I really worry for my mental health. And I worry for her too, because she’s really not getting the attention that she needs.”

Carla Nunez advises everyone to be flexible with themselves and their families during COVID-19. Photo credit: Erin Shimazu. 

Carla Nunez is a social worker and mom of two: a kindergartner and a fourth grader.

She says her biggest advice is: “Just be really flexible with yourself, your family. Be really kind, not taking this as a productivity competition, but really looking for how you can work on your wellness, whether it’s [a] positive growth mindset or practicing mindfulness.”