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Work Life Balance During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Giana and her husband live in Southern California and have a seven-year-old daughter who is in the first grade.

TLJ: Giana, if you think back to a year ago, what did an average work day look like for you?

GR: Usually:

  • Up by 7am
  • Breakfast with our daughter
  • Out the door by 8am
  • Take daughter to school and head to work
  • Pick up our daughter from after school program by 4:45
  • My husband is home by 6/6:30pm
  • Dinner, bath, reading, bedtime (for our daughter)
  • TV time
  • Vocal ensemble rehearsal for myself during the week depending on our schedule

TLJ: How about your weekend activities?

GR: Usually:

  • Saturday morning – daughter’s gymnastics class
  • Saturday afternoon – fun free time
  • Sunday morning – go to the beach to play beach volleyball or go to the zoo
  • Sunday afternoon – fun free time outdoors

TLJ: What does your average weekday look like now since the COVID-19 Pandemic hit?

“The school day and the work day last a lot longer”

GR: I have been working from home since March 6th 2020. My husband is working from home as well.

GR: Usually:

  • Up by 7:30am
  • Our daughter is up and reading in bed or whatever she does for the first 45 minutes of her day
  • Put on workout clothes
  • My daughter may or may not change, sometimes PJ’s or not
  • Breakfast
  • Look at my daughter’s weekly assignments her teacher has sent in her chrome book, and decide what will happen first
  • Look at my meeting schedule
  • Decide which activities are more independent for my daughter so she can do those when I have my meetings
  • Check for anything else I can be present for and schedule that into my day
  • My husband starts work – 8:30am
  • I start work –  8:30/9am

GR: We do some school activities and work activities and then usually around 12, we all have lunch together at the table or picnic outside on Giana works while her daughter does her school worknice days. We will spend at least an hour if it works out on either the beginning of lunch or end of lunch with outside time. We will ride bikes, play catch, or take a long walk. The second half of the day will depend on what our daughter’s school activities are and work. It lasts much longer than a normal school day, which was 8:05am to 2pm. But working from home, her school day goes until we are finished with work. And then we go outside and play before starting dinner.

“The school day goes until we are finished with work”

GR: We start cooking around 5:30pm and eat at 6:30pm. We then play some games and maybe watch a show. Next is bath and bedtime for our daughter. Maybe some TV time for myself and my husband. Rinse and repeat.

TLJ: It sounds like keeping to a schedule has been important for your family?

“We were stressing ourselves out the first week trying to get everything in”

GR: At the beginning, it was way more rigorous because we were adjusting to something new and we didn’t know what to expect. And for the first two weeks it was optional learning. It was up to the parents to come up with all the activities. I probably had 12 activities on a piece of paper everyday including lunch and recess. I wrote every single thing down, and we were trying to cross everything off. And then we realized we were stressing ourselves out too much in the first week because we were dealing with change and trying to get everything in.

GR: Since then, her teacher now sends stuff that is more like block learning:

  • Reading – 15 to 30 minutes daily
  • Math – 15 to 30 minutes of assigned math daily
  • Writing – Complete 1 of 3 assigned activities daily
  • P.E – Complete list of assigned activities daily

GR: We have a lot more flexibility and it is in four or five chunks for the day.

TLJ: Did the school provide Chrome Books for the children?

GR: Yes. They have their own Chrome Book in the classroom, but they keep them at school. Once they decided to close the schools and have the children homeschooled, they checked them out to the children to take home.

GR: And every week on Fridays, they have a ZOOM meeting with the teacher and the other kids in the class. This works fine for now until the teacher maybe comes up with a system to do one-on-one activities.

TLJ: How do you feel about this new homeschooling experience?

“She does a lot more exploration now”

GR: For our daughter, she is a super independent kid and independent learner already, so on our end, we actually feel like she is learning a lot more than she normally would in school. Because she gets to explore a lot more and doesn’t have to be paced with everything else. She does a lot more exploration now, such as looking at science videos that she probably wouldn’t have seen as much. She reads at a way higher level at home, so she is reading more of the those books on her own. In that sense, this is probably a good thing at her age.

“The balance of needing to work and giving our daughter attention, that is not school related, has been a challenge”

GR: Socially, she likes hanging out with us. The time management piece on our end, and the balancing of needing to work and give her attention is the challenge. It is more of the attention, not the idea of the school work. She is at a young enough age that my husband and I are confident in the way that we can explain material and coach her without giving her answers and do those techniques. It’s more of the actual attention. Like, I have a meeting and my husband has a meeting, when can we schedule in attention time? Which is a struggle.

TLJ: What has the work climate been like for you during this new transition?

“We are all getting to know each other much better”

GR: Thankfully, our company could not be any more supportive of working parents. When I have meetings, our daughter has become part of the background and everyone is like, “Hey what’s up?” Everybody has kids in their meetings. Having the support of my company makes a huge difference. They are very flexible, and we are all getting to know each other much better.

TLJ: When the COVID-19 Pandemic first hit, and the shelter in place orders took effect and the school closures began; how did you feel about it all?

“It happened so fast”

GR: It happened so fast, and it started so early for us. No one had really heard anything about it. At first, I was like wow, our company is super conservative and maybe they are going a little overboard. So OK, we gotta close everything down in two hours, and make sure both offices are closed down. The first initial reaction was like I guess they just want to be ahead of the curve. Everyone just assumed we would be back in a couple of weeks, and this is just a precautionary measure.

“We will go along with it and we will back in a couple of weeks”

GR: Then schools closed the next week. It seemed like all the conversation had changed, but that it was just precautionary and temporary. And then progressively things got worse, we are like, this is going on longer, uh oh. That’s when I think we all had to make the adjustment at the work level, and the home level. And then we had to let our daughter know it’s going on a little longer. Then we just went along with it. We just did.

“We will do what we need to do”

TLJ: How did you explain the COVID-19 Pandemic to your daughter?

She said, “I know we have to do this for the COVID-19 Virus”

GR: We did not have to do that much explaining because their school did a really good job. Her teachers all talked very openly to them about it. They explained: there is a sickness/virus going around, in order to protect you guys from the virus and your family from the virus, we are going to have to close the school so that we can give everybody time to be apart. They sent out emails and messages home to the parents letting us know what they explained to the kids. When she came home, she said, “I know we have to do this for the COVID-19 Virus.”

“We told her a lot of it is just giving everybody a chance to kind of be separate, and stop it from spreading as quickly”

GR: We also explained to her that this has happened several times over the history of humans. It is nothing new. It is just happening in our lifetime. But many, many lifetimes have had this. We talked about the flu, the Spanish Flu, and what happened back then and how people moved on after that, and this is what we are doing now. She is really easy to talk to and very aware and came from school with so much information.

TLJ: The COVID-19 Pandemic is affecting us all in different ways. What have been some of your go to stress relievers that you find most helpful?

GR: Definitely exercising daily and meditating regularly. We have somebody who does guided meditation three times a week for my work, so I join in on those. Having wine or beer or whatever in the evenings and enjoying a nice meal. I have taken a couple of cooking classes, and I am able to explore and figure out how to make new things. My most recent dish is a Thai Yellow Curry from scratch. It was super cool because I had never done that before.

“Just driving and putting the music on and connecting to the rest of the world is always nice”

GR: And then singing. Whenever I need to, I just get in the car and go for a drive: usually to get groceries. Just driving and putting the music on and connecting to the rest of the world is always nice.

TLJ: Overall, what would you say have been some of the positives for you and your family in this new reality we are all living in?

GR: I think just the gratefulness. The attention to being grateful for all the positive things and the things that we can access during this time, with the awareness that everyone is having different experiences during this trying time.

GR: We are grateful for:

  • Our health
  • Our neighborhood
  • Nature and the space around us
  • Building forts with our daughter
  • Hitting softballs in the backyard
  • Playing hide and seek with our daughter
  • Watching our daughter learn how to ride a bike
  • Having picnics
  • Connecting with family and friends more often via video chat
  • Our jobs
  • The time to be able to sit and do those things without the pressure

TLJ: What about the negatives?

“How do we find the balance?”

GR: I think the biggest negatives are the balance of time and attention with my daughter. Making sure we are able to balance that and also helping her understand that we are still working too; the battle on both ends. She is young and the emotions that come with that. That’s probably number one; how do we find the balance? Two, I would say is the social entertainment stuff. My husband and I like to go out and go to restaurants. And we like to go to new places and travel. Thinking about how to keep things creative enough so we don’t miss those things too much has been a challenge.

TLJ: When we return to our new normal, what do you look forward to most?

GR: Going out to eat, going to a bar, traveling, and going to see our moms and all our family. Just visiting people in general. And being able to go to the beach.


Beach day

Giana, thank you for sharing your story.




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