Handling Triple Duty: Parenting, Working, and Teaching in the Era of Coronavirus

Many parents are feeling overwhelmed over the triple duty of being a parent, working remotely, and teaching their children at home during the Coronavirus shut-in. In an episode of NPR: All Things Considered a mother explained that the first 4 weeks seemed bearable taken day-by-day with a strict schedule of work and academics in the morning and afternoon broken up by undisrupted family meals and exercise. But when schools announced closures for an additional 6 weeks, the triple duty became overwhelming and panic-inducing.

This example illustrates how Coronavirus has changed our daily lives, and especially for working parents. In this post, I highlight some relevant advice that applies, taken from Magna 20-minute Mentor videos (all OSU faculty and staff have access to more videos).

Erin Malone, DVM, Ph.D., speaks to this change and suggests management techniques to survive during this difficult transition in How Can Change Management Principles Help New Educational Programs Succeed?. She reminds us that the frustration we feel is part of the natural cycle of grief- shock, denial, panic, frustration, and acceptance (see visual below). She recommends management techniques that can be employed at each step of the change cycle to promote success and sanity in the new instructor and learner.

In times of stress, we often turn to others for advice. In these talks, “What is the Best Scholarship Advice I Ever Received, “ and “What is the Best Citizenship Advice I Ever Received,” Ken Alford, Ph.D., offers advice he gathered from years working as an instructor. He highlights the importance of keeping a schedule, maintaining organization, utilizing resources effectively, and following your passion.

Jana Price employed this advice in her Facebook post at the end of March. Before bed each night, she plans lectures and assignments for the following day or week and writes a list of food items she would need for meals. Each week they visit a different country. In the week she chose France, her children researched a different topic each day and explored the museums virtually. Meals were inspired by French cuisine. An Eiffel tower was created out of cardboard. Assignments, essays, or speeches were presented by end of day or week, depending on the complexity. In her post, Jana Price stated that it was a great family bonding experience and made being shut inside most of the day much more bearable. While Jana Price completed her work, her children were focused on exploring a different culture and country halfway across the world.

Eiffel Tower made of cardboard


In the end, we can remind ourselves of one of the best pieces of advice Ken Alford, Ph.D., received—“Be your best self, do the best you can, but recognize that you’re not going to be number one in every single thing. Keep things in perspective… and don’t compare yourself and your situation to others.” In this time of change, we need to remind ourselves of this and with the techniques and advice recommended by Erin Malone, DVM Ph.D., and Ken Alford Ph.D. parents can successfully maintain this triple duty until the Coronavirus crisis ends.

Author Bio: Jenny Raynsford is an OSU graduate student in her first year of a two-year Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the OSU Center for Teaching and Learning.

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1 Response to Handling Triple Duty: Parenting, Working, and Teaching in the Era of Coronavirus

  1. Cari Maes says:

    Eeesh, I can relate. I realize why we don’t have our own parents as our classroom teachers (and why my mom, as a preschool teacher, sent me to a different preschool). Children just have qualitatively different relationships with us than they do with their classroom teachers. Our children are also not used to seeing us ‘at work’ and it appears so selfish to them. Why are we always staring at screens and giving our attention to virtual ‘others’ when they are live and in-person RIGHT HERE? When I feel frustrated, I try to realize that we are actually lucky (those of us privileged to keep our jobs and work from home) to have this time to get to know our children better. I know I’ve learned new facets of their personalities and interests in these last two months (the good, the bad, and the weird!)

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