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by Dana Brownlee
May 14, 2020
by Dana Brownlee
May 14, 2020
My jaw dropped when I read the email from my kids’ school announcing that school would close for weeks due to the novel coronavirus pandemic….wait, what? Just thinking of the massive disruption that would cause in our day to day lives created a knot in my stomach, but while my daughter fretted over her canceled school camping trip, I reminded her that at least we’d still have her neighborhood soccer practices and games as a healthy distraction. Then, my phone pinged with a new message announcing the cancellation of the soccer season. Uggh!
As the hours passed on that day, organization after organization (national and local) announced they were closing for several weeks (or longer). Arguably, the country was taking a massive, simultaneous time-out in a drastic attempt to combat the virus causing the COVID-19 disease. Indeed, our life would fundamentally and drastically change – for an undetermined amount of time. While I understood the compelling public health rationale and felt fortunate for our health, in that moment as a working mom, the news felt like a real gut punch.
As an admittedly Type-A personality, I absolutely thrive on routine and structure. While I understood the logic behind making the short-term sacrifice for long-term benefit, the level of anticipated lifestyle change felt jarring, to say the least. As a corporate trainer, I’ve often taught the five stages of change acceptance (based on the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle), and I seemed to move through all five stages in a matter of just minutes. My mental dialogue sounded like this.
Only a few short days out from the announcement, I’m certainly still processing the seismic shift about to take place in our lifestyle and society more broadly. While I admittedly still have more questions than answers, I know that a key to a functional household for us is some level of routine and structure. So, during these first few days, I’ve given serious thought to how we’ll approach our daily life differently – what actions we’ll take and rituals we’ll use to structure our day and embrace our “new normal.” Here are a few initial ideas of how we’ll encourage a healthy transition to a new normal.
We also defined some daily rituals/ground rules to help encourage a positive attitude and healthy environment. We all signed it to show commitment.
This is new territory for virtually all working parents and since each family is different, there’s certainly no one size fits all solution. So here are a variety of ideas from other real parents struggling to adjust to their new normal.
Raquel Tillman (Charlotte, NC) – Owner, Tillman Insurance Advisors, and mom of two
While parents will be understandably focused on the care of kids and household management during this time of rampant school closures, many also face the very real challenge of needing to continue to get work done and be productive during the day. Executive Coach and Founder of Next Pivot Point, Julie Kratz shares practical recommendations for how to telework productively even with kids at home during the day.
Admittedly, this is new territory for everyone and no one has all the “right” answers. Parents with very young children will face unique challenges, and each family must navigate their own path, “rules” and processes. Certainly, everyone should continue to seek advice from trusted public health sources like the CDC website and also heed warnings from local officials before adopting any course of action.
The truth is that work and school often define the daily structure for most working parents and with that structure either removed or drastically changed for the foreseeable future, parents are faced with the challenge of stepping up to redefine what a productive day looks like in this new normal. Certainly, public health safety is the paramount concern and while it’s a bummer to be forced to socially distance for an undetermined length of time, there are certainly ways to take advantage of this time as a unique opportunity to learn differently, connect with one another on a deeper level and find creative ways to experience the day.